Jamaica to choose new prime minister on Nov. 19

KINGSTON, Jamaica,  (Reu-ters) – Jamaica’s ruling  party will choose its next leader on Nov. 19 and the winner  will become the Caribbean island’s next prime minister, a  senior government official said yesterday.

More than 5,000 delegates from the ruling Jamaica Labour  Party (JLP) will vote for a successor to Prime Minister Bruce  Golding at the party’s general council meeting on that date,  JLP General Secretary Aundre Franklin told a news conference.

“We have just over 5,000 delegates now, but we will be  going over the list and a final count will be known by October  21,” Franklin said.
Golding, 63, announced unexpectedly last weekend that he  would step down as party leader and prime minister after four  years in the job, citing the pressures of office as his main  reason. He has not commented publicly but is scheduled to  address the nation in a broadcast on Sunday evening.

Aundre Franklin

Franklin said the deadline for nominations would be Oct.  20. Already three names have been put forward as likely to  figure in a run-off for the vacancy — Education Minister  Andrew Holness, Finance Minister Audley Shaw and Industry and  Commerce Minister Christopher Tufton.

The opposition People’s National Party welcomed Golding’s  decision to quit and has called for a general election to be  held as soon as possible. A general election is  constitutionally due by December 2012.

The new prime minister will face the challenge of trying to  jump-start a struggling economy in one of the world’s most  indebted nations. Tourism-reliant Jamaica has been hit hard by  the global economic crisis and turned to the International  Monetary Fund in 2010 for a $1.27 billion loan agreement as it  struggled to recover.

Franklin said that all candidates would have to conform to  party rules to conduct a clean period of campaigning.
“The party’s rules and regulations will be brought to bear  on anyone or any group of individuals who so decide to bring  the party into dispute,” Franklin said.

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