Jamaica’s First Female PM Takes Office

Hardbeatnews, KINGSTON, Jamaica, Fri. Mar. 31, 2006: It’s official – Jamaica has its first female prime minister. Portia Lucretia Simpson Miller yesterday afternoon took the oath of office before thousands of Jamaican nationals, promising, “… to facilitate change.”

In her inaugural address as the island’s seventh prime minister, PM Simpson Miller, told those gathered at King’s House, that she pledged to the Jamaican people to break the power of the criminals, work tirelessly to eradicate corruption and extortion, advance human rights and individual liberty and foster, facilitate the conditions for employment opportunities and wealth-creation and to deepen the involvement of Jamaicans in the Diaspora.

The 60-year-old leader of the Peoples National Party also vowed to build on outgoing PM, P.J. Patterson’s, legacy of cooperation and “to ensure that the interests of all our people are protected and that victimization never rears its ugly head in any way under my administration.”

And in indirect reference to the controversy that almost tore the party apart in the run-up to the delegates’ election on February 25, Simpson-Miller stated, “Unity is a prerequisite for success in Jamaica and is very high on my list of priorities.”

She also urged the opposition to help launch a new era of cooperation. “Let us work together in the interest of all Jamaicans. Let us put the people’s hopes and aspirations before our own interests,” said the former minister of local government, community development & sport.

As she stated, “If we embrace one vision – not a PNP or JLP vision, not an uptown or a downtown vision not an urban or rural vision but one Jamaican vision; then we will deal with our challenges as a nation.”

PM Simpson-Miller also called on all Jamaicans who will worship on Friday, Saturday or Sunday to pray for the prosperity of the country and for peace in the nation, in a speech that was peppered with reference to God and her Christian beliefs.

Over 6,000 witnessed the inauguration including many members of the Jamaican Diaspora, several athletes who participated at the recent Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia, several Caricom leaders, Caricom Secretary General Edwin Carrington, Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan and Essence magazine editorial director, Susan Taylor.

Simpson-Miller replaces PM Patterson who served for 14 years. She faces an uphill task especially in curbing crime and violence as the island’s murder rates continues to climb. – Hardbeatnews.com