THE sudden departure of People’s National Party (PNP) caretaker/candidate for St Catherine East Central Dr Winston De La Haye from the constituency yesterday has raised eyebrows in the Opposition party, which is now scrambling to find his replacement
Dr De La Haye, in a terse post on social media, said a threat on his life has forced him to walk away from representational politics, though he still intends to contribute to Jamaica’s development.
“I’ve been participating on this platform as the PNP candidate for East Central [St] Catherine. After receiving a threat on my life, I have seen it fit to submit my resignation, with immediate effect. I intend to continue with my contribution to Jamaica’s development,” the post by the former army man read.
Calls and messages to his phone yesterday went unanswered.
Up to press time yesterday, the police said no report had been made.
In a statement to the media, the PNP said that it acknowledges, with regret, Dr De La Haye’s resignation as the party’s caretaker.
“The party thanks Dr De La Haye for his service to the party and will act expeditiously to identify a standard-bearer in that constituency,” the party said.
One party insider told the Observer that while several members were stunned at De La Haye’s decision, he had lost significant ground in the swing seat after “slick innuendos” were made by his colleagues about the sitting Jamaica Labour Party Member of Parliament Alando Terrelonge.
“That never go down well with people in the constituency at all, and then you come back asking for the country to lockdown after you see what your own people go through in St Catherine,” the source said.
“Think about it, as a military man with military connections you can call pon at any time, how yuh fi make threat run you out a the seat? A politics this enuh. The party just never pleased with the lockdown suggestion, him under pressure in the seat and him cannot match Terrelonge with the care package them weh a give out and not to mention the roads him a fix,” the source added.
Asked if the party would be able to find a suitable candidate with national polls widely expected next year, the source said that it would be difficult.
“PNP keeps shooting itself in the foot and wondering why it not moving. There is no clear message from the party. We all over the shop. Anybody we put in can’t gain nuh ground before election,” the source lamented.
In January, Dr De La Haye, a former chief medical officer, announced that he had joined the ranks of the PNP as its candidate for the nine-year-old St Catherine East Central constituency.
At that time, he told the Observer that having benefited “tremendously” from the country from as early as his years in high school through free tuition, he decided to return the favour.
He said, too, that he was bringing to the political table a “clean your brain, change your life” concept.
In subsequent posts on social media, the medical doctor said that he was all set and awaiting battle mode.
“Warriors on the ground ready. Power and pressure! Outflank the enemy. Precision strike. Wi come fi tek it,” he said in a tweet which was accompanied by a photo of his military officer’s hats.
However, another source contacted by the Observer confirmed that De La Haye’s call for an islandwide lockdown amid the spread of COVID-19 was of concern to the party.
“The party has not mentioned one word about the threat [in its release]. It has not said the police are investigating. All it said is that it is moving quickly to replace him. That should tell you all you need to know. Him seh something, them never pleased, now him out,” said the source. “Look closely at what is happening,” added the source.
“The man under pressure in him seat, him talk what them never want him fi talk, and now them a get rid of him. A just suh politics go,” the source added.
Efforts to reach PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson for a comment were unsuccessful.
In the meantime, Terrelonge, in a social media post, condemned the threat made to the doctor.
“My team and I have seen a tweet which mentions that a candidate has been threatened. While the tweet does not mention the source of the threat or what action has been taken besides resignation, we denounce all forms of political violence. This has no place in our modern democracy.
“My team and I have also seen another tweet speaking to lack of political traction on the ground and internal issues. While we are aware that the candidate has been absent from the ground and has not been gaining any traction we cannot speak to the latter issue raised.
“Irrespective of the veracity of the plethora of reasons behind said resignation, my team and I wish all those who seek political office well. We also implore them to be mindful of public utterance which may sow national seeds of discord and disrupt the peace [and] love in communities,” he said.
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