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Holness wants meeting with Opposition Leader ahead of SOE expiration in…

first_imgKINGSTON, Jamaica,– Prime Minister Andrew Holness is seeking a meeting with Opposition Leader Dr. Peter Phillips ahead of the expiration of states of emergency (SOE) in three separate regions in Jamaica. Holness is insisting there should be a united front in dealing with the crime situation in Jamaica.Last week, the government failed to get support for its efforts to extend the SOE in place since January 2017. Opposition legislators voted against the measure which Holness said was necessary to curtail crime and violence across the island.Since the vote, there have been calls for the two leaders to meet to discuss the way forward and the private sector has led in holding discussions with the leadership of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People’s National Party (PNP) that maintains its position on the matter.In a December 18 letter to Phillips, Prime Minister Holness wrote  he wanted the meeting to take place “before the expiration of the enhanced security measures to discuss your position and identify solutions that could help us to see our way to reaching consensus in support of the extension of the States of Public Emergency as recommended by the Chief of Defense Staff and the Commissioner of Police”.The SOE had been imposed in the parish of St. James, Kingston Western, Kingston Central and St Andrew South and St. Catherine North. All three SOE are due to expire in January.Holness told legislators last week of positive results from the SOE. These included a 20 per cent reduction in murders island wide, and in some areas like Montego Bay, a 70 per cent reduction.“We need more time,” Holness said, making reference to letters from the heads of the security forces requesting a 90-day extension.In his letter, Prime Minister Holness also wrote that he has held discussions with various stakeholders and “the overwhelming position expressed is that the Government and Opposition should be united in the fight against crime.“The sector representatives, as well as the general public, hold the view that Parliament should continue its support for the use of emergency powers to contain and control criminal activity that is beyond the capacity of normal law enforcement measures.“I am concerned that once again Jamaica will be denied the opportunity to bring crime under control, and the current political disunity will only embolden criminals,” Holness wrote.He said that in the “spirit of unity” he was seeking the meeting with Phillips to discuss the situation.last_img read more