March 3, 2006

Simpson-Miller endorsed

ALL 34 MP’s of the ruling Jamaica People’s National Party (PNP) on Tuesday stuck to tradition and endorsed Portia Simpson Miller for the office of prime minister when incumbent P J Patterson resigns in approximately one month’s time.


The vote by the MP’s at a meeting held at Jamaica House immediately put to rest concerns that some MP’s may not support Simpson Miller as head of government despite her victory in Saturday’s contest for the presidency of the PNP, beating off the challenge of fellow ministers Peter Phillips and Omar Davies, and backbencher Karl Blythe.

Jamaica House, in a statement after the meeting, said government MP’s voted “unanimously and by acclamation” to name Simpson Miller as the person who commands their support for prime minister.

Prime Minister Patterson told Parliament later in the afternoon that all 34 government Members of Parliament had endorsed Simpson Miller as their choice to be the new prime minister of Jamaica.

Bruce Golding, the leader of the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party, lost no time in congratulating Simpson Miller, even after having done so publicly on the weekend and again, personally, in writing. He extended to the prime minister-designate, on behalf of the Opposition, “congratulations and our best wishes”.

Simpson Miller, dressed in beige business suit and cream blouse, arrived in the House quietly, as usual, about 12 minutes before the sitting started. She rose on being called on by the speaker and acknowledged, as graciously as she was brief, the endorsement of her colleagues and the congratulations of the Opposition.

“Mr Speaker, I rise to thank the prime minister and members of this honourable House, on both sides, for your support. I would like to thank the members of this side of the House for their confidence and support and to say to both sides of the House I look forward to working with all of you for the betterment of the quality of life of all our people. Thank you very much.”

Simpson Miller wrote her name in the history books on Saturday by becoming the first woman to be president of the ruling People’s National Party.

Patterson said on Saturday that he would remain in office for another four to five weeks to see to a smooth transition to his successor.

The PNP has formed the government continuously since 1989 and, were Simpson Miller and her team to win the next general election, due at the end of 2007, the party would be in government for an unprecedented five terms.