In the wake of reported sporadic violence in Jamaica, Prime Minister Andrew Holness issued an appeal for calm before, during and after the post-Christmas elections.
The leader reportedly issued a statement following reports of the stoning of a campaign bus transporting supporters of his Jamaica Labor Party following a rally in Mandeville, Manchester.
“We are on the verge of a new Jamaica, a bright new beginning and it is time for us to move away from backward and barbaric behavior,” Holness said.
He made the appeal to nationals prepared to elect a leader four days after observing the Christmas holidays.
Bells were ringing in Mandeville where the leader kicked off his campaign on Dec. 4.
To announce the Dec. 29 elections, Holness carried a large freedom bell -- the symbol of the Jamaica Labour Party.
“You have all come to the centre of the island to hear the date when Jamaica would march on to victory with the Jamaica Labour Party,” the leader said.
“Remember, I told you we were not going to trouble your Christmas.”
“I want you to have a happy Christmas, a merry Christmas. So we break for the Christmas period, but by the 28th you back on the road, and by the 29th you put your vote in the box, happy New Year, government in place, back on track, ready for work, ready for progress, ready for development, ready for a positive future,” Holness said.
The opposition People’s National Party had been vociferous in their call for elections since Prime Minister Bruce Golding announced his resignation more than a month ago.
However, PM Holness said his reason for announcing the date was because “I checked with the director of elections and he told me that the new list is now published.”
“As the campaign director, I can tell you here tonight that the People’s National Party machinery is ready for the elections so tell them … We ready,” opposition PNP representative Peter Phillips said.
Portia Simpson-Miller, the leader of that party claims that the island has been on the wrong course since 2007 when she lost to Golding during an election called in similar fashion after five-term Prime Minister P.J. Patterson resigned and she was named to serve the remainder of his term.
Simpson-Miller had hopes of becoming the first female prime minister of Jamaica in 2007 but lost control of ruling the island.
While members of the JLP will be ringing bells from now and perhaps into the New Year, the opposition will use its symbol – the broom – to promote a clean sweep of votes.
Allegedly, numbers for the JLP recently soared past previous gains reportedly in favor of the PNP.
“Hold on, help is on the way. The People’s National Party is coming to rescue you,” Simpson-Miller said.
Jamaica is the third CARICOM nation to call end-of-year elections. In St. Lucia and Guyana, voters went to the poll on the same day.