KINGSTON, Jamaica, Friday December 30, 2011 – Portia Simpson Miller, this country’s first female prime minister has made a dramatic comeback, propelling her People’s National Party (PNP) to a 42-21 victory over the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in general election on Thursday.
“I am humbled as I stand before you and I wish to thank the Jamaican people for their love, for their support and for giving the People’s National Party and the leader of the party her own mandate,” the 66-year-old PNP president told supporters last night.
“I want to thank the prime minister who called earlier to congratulate me, and he was very gracious,” added Simpson Miller, who was first elected to parliament in 1976 and served as prime minister from 2006-07.
Outgoing Prime Minister Andrew Holness, the JLP leader, retained his hold on the St Andrew West Central constituency.
However, JLP heavyweights Robert Montague and Clive Mullings were among those who failed to muster sufficient support.
The 39-year-old Holness last night conceded the election, stating, “It is a time of reflection and introspection for the Jamaica Labour Party. We see it as an opportunity to rebuild and, starting tomorrow, we will be rebuilding.”
He was appointed as head of government in October following the resignation of Bruce Golding, who cited the 2010 saga involving drug lord Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke as one of reasons for his decision.
Analysts say that administration’s handling of Coke’s US extradition request likely contributed to the JLP’s demise.
“It is apparent that the people of Jamaica still have concerns about the JLP and we will reflect on that,” Holness said.
“I wish the new Government well. They will face several challenges, but I hope for the benefit of the country they will do a good job.”
The defeat made the JLP the first one-term government since Independence.
The PNP has promised to renegotiate Jamaica’s multi-billion dollar Standby Agreement with the International Monetary Fund.
It also said it would boost unemployment, estimated at more than 12 per cent, by implementing a Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme.
Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas has congratulated Simpson Miller on her victory.
Dr Douglas, also speaking on behalf of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) said: “Our Comrades here of the SKNLP are proud of the decisive victory of our sister-party, the PNP, and look forward to closer collaboration and partnership in the future as you take on the mantle of leadership of your country at a time when the region and the world are beset by so many social economic and financial challenges.”