‘I don’t expect him to be asked to resign’

Vaz

HAVING HAD its leader hauled over the coals for sanctioning the engagement of a United States law firm to lobby the US government on an extradition matter, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has called an emergency meeting of its top brass to discuss the issue.

However, West Portland Member of Parliament Daryl Vaz said the meeting of its Central Executive in Ocho Rios this Sunday was not called to determine Bruce Golding’s future as Jamaica’s prime minister.

“We are having a Central Executive meeting, and that will form part of the discussions going forward. I don’t think it is necessarily to decide anything. It is part of a process that has to be gone through when the party is faced with challenges such as this one,” said Vaz, who is also the country’s information minister and the JLP’s deputy treasurer.

The Central Executive is the highest decision-making body of the JLP outside its annual conference. Vaz said that Golding would be speaking there and that he might be answering questions.

Golding has been battered by a public-opinion barrage since he disclosed in Parliament on Tuesday that he sanctioned the move for the JLP to engage Manatt, Phelps & Phillips on the extradition issue.

The United States requested on August 29 last year, that alleged crime lord Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, who operates out of Golding’s constituency, be sent there to stand trial.

Coke is alleged to have trafficked guns and drugs through the United States.

In Parliament on Tuesday, Golding said the decision to engage the US law firm was taken in September, which was within a month of the receipt of the extradition request.

Golding had initially denied that the Government had engaged Manatt to act on its behalf on extradition issues.

After eight weeks of silence on the matter, Golding told Parliament that when he sanctioned the move, he was acting as JLP leader, not as prime minister.

Ripple effect

But his revelation caused a ripple effect through the society as political groups, civil-society organisation and private citizens called for him to step down.

However, Vaz said that while he could not read the prime minister’s mind, Golding had been reassured that he had the backing of his key lieutenants.

Gleaner sources, however, say the prime minister has been coming under pressure internally since the debacle began unfolding.

“I don’t expect him to be asked to resign (by the Central Executive). I know for sure, based on the consultations that I have had, that he has the full support of the Cabinet and the members of parliament,” said Vaz.

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