The newly appointed, first female Ombudsman Donna Parchment-Brown paid a Courtesy Call on the Leader of Opposition at his offices. The sit-down lasted over an hour.
This Call is being made in the background of serious breaches of the Political Code of Conduct. There is an signed agreement between the Ombudsman and the major political parties as it relates to utterances, posting of party flags, conduct of rallies, designed to reducing tensions, and acts which may disturb the peace.
To date the Ombudsman’s Office has been very busy puttng out fires from reducing the erection of party flags and requesting those up to be taken down.
Leader of Opposition JLP Andrew Holness toured the troubled St. Catherine area with Ombudsman and JLP Caretaker/Candidate Terrelongue.
Unfortunate utterances deemed to incite violence has been of some concern. Vaz a PNP first time MP for Central Westmoreland found himself in hot waters when he quoted a line from convicted murderer Kartel’s song to “load up the gu …. which has been interpreted as saying “load up the gun”. Under intense social media scrutiny and condemnation the PNP MP apologised for his utterances …he also withdrew entirely his unfortunate utterances. This followed the burning of Party Office of Michael Troupe, PNP Counsellor.
The National Democratic Movement (NDM), a relatively small third party had deplored Vaz’s conduct. “The PNP must discipline Dwayne Vaz” , chair Michael Williams declared. “We do not want a return to the bloody 80s when many lives were lost due to a long drawn out political campaign of about 8 months” Williams concluded.
Dr. Horace Chang had formally reported Vaz to the Political Ombudsman. (see Vision’s report). Monday’s Courtesy Call had its agenda drafted long before the parties had a chance to draft one.
Last week or so two Jamaicans were killed in Gregory Park, St. Catherine. A female said to be a PNP supporter ….. by the gun, and a male whose family it is believed are labourites …by stabbing. These incidents were reported as being politically related homicides. The posting of party flags is believed to be at the heart of these tensions.
It was with these burning issues to be solved that made this courtesy call so timely. The length of the sit-down was significant and spoke volumes. A time bomb was ticking and or/was about to explode.
Ombudsman reported to Vision after the Courtesy Call that she found the meeting “useful” … a similar meeting with the PM was planned for later in the week. Donna Parchment- Brown, Ombudsman, further stated “I will meet with MP Dwayne Vaz also, although he sent me an email apologizing for his utterances. “I will then decide what action if necessary, will further be taken” she concluded.
Picture and story by Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie, Senior International Correspondent & photojournalist reporting for Vision Newspaper Canada.