KINGSTON, Jamaica – President of the People’s National Party (PNP), Mark Golding, says while he is looking forward to the resumption of the Vale Royal talks, the discussions should not be limited to the states of emergency (SOEs), on which the parties have conflicting understandings of what is permissible under the Constitution.
The talks, he noted, must be on a broader national security strategy, where there is potential for useful dialogue leading to consensus.
“The PNP has sought and now received legal advice on the two most recent SOEs that were declared on the 6th and the 28th of December, respectively. There is nothing to suggest that these two SOEs were declared as a result of changed circumstances after the SOE in November failed to get the required 2/3 support of the Senate on the 25th of November,” Golding said.
“These two recent SOEs are clearly an attempt to circumvent the limits that the Constitution intended to place on the prime minister’s powers. Based on advice received, I believe that it is likely that the court would declare this recent practice to be unconstitutional. We will therefore be seeking the court’s guidance on this. It is a matter of fundamental constitutional importance and needs to be resolved once and for all. This prime minister needs to be taught to live within the rule of law.”
Golding noted that earlier this week, Prime Minister Andrew Holness told the nation that he wants to have Vale Royal talks on the states of emergency (SOEs).
On Wednesday, Holness told reporters that the Government intends to get a consensus with the Opposition on the use of SOEs. He went on to say that several attempts were made to involve the Opposition in the talks, but to no avail.
In recent times, the Opposition has made their stance known on SOEs when it criticised the use of the security measure, noting that it is not an effective tool to tackle the crime problem facing the country.
In response to the prime minister’s announcement on Wednesday, Golding said, “I really had to ask myself, ‘is Andrew for real?’ He has had no discussion with me since the 8th of November, a very brief conversation behind the Speaker’s chair in Gordon House. At that time, he said he was looking at three options to respond to the crime problem, and I urged him to pursue something other than the SOEs, as he was well aware of our disagreement with the way he has been using the SOEs.”
He added that he is looking forward to the resumption of the discussions “which the PM [Prime Minister] abandoned after a single meeting last February. I hope he is serious about this, and it isn’t just more political posturing.”