RJR News / With six days to go before the highly anticipated by-election in St. Mary South Eastern, concern is mounting about the political tension in the constituency.
Local elections watchdog, Citizens Action for Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE), has now weighed in on the matter as tension has escalated in the constituency since two supporters of the opposition People’s National Party (PNP), were shot and injured in Annotto Bay Saturday evening.
Dr. Lloyd Barnett, Chairman of CAFFE, reacted to the situation in the constituency where the PNP and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) are gearing up to do battle for the seat in next Monday’s by-election.
“Yes we are concerned; at this stage we should be far more mature in how we conduct our election campaigns, and it is unfortunate that we have that sort of acrimony and ill feeling which has been bedeviling this particular by-election, mainly in St. Mary,” he told RJR News.
He said officials from both parties need to ensure that supporters behave in an acceptable manner and in accordance with the political code of conduct.
Meanwhile, the Police High Command has deployed additional resources and manpower to the constituency of St Mary South Eastern ahead of the election.
Soldiers have also been sent to the constituency.
This was disclosed by Assistant Commissioner Norman Heywood, head of Area Two Police Headquarters. He warned that the security forces will be taking a zero tolerance approach to persons involved in violence in the constituency.
On Sunday, 20 persons were detained during operations in the constituency.
Heywood disclosed that the detainees, who are not residents of St. Mary, were processed and released.
He said the police and military will be conducting daily operations in St Mary South Eastern to quell the tension.
He also said the recent violence in the constituency is being investigated.
“Yes, we have a person in custody who is alleged to have chopped another person and the two incidents of shooting are being investigated,” he said.
The situation in the constituency has deteriorated so badly that Political Ombudsman Donna Parchment Brown is threatening to pull the plug on campaigning in the constituency.
Parchmen Brown and officials of the Peace Management Initiative will visit the constituency this week.
She warned that she could call off campaigning if the violence continues.
Over the last few weeks there have been reports of outsiders flooding the constituency, engaging in or provoking violence.