Posted on March 6, 2020
People’s National Party (PNP) caretaker for South East Clarendon, Patricia Duncan Sutherland, says her action during Monday’s by-election in the constituency was inappropriate and has apologised.
Duncan Sutherland was rebuked by the Director of Elections Glasspole Brown and the Political Ombudsman Donna Parchment Brown after she and her supporters wore white t-shirts with the word observer printed on the back.
Noting that the group Citizens Action for Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE) was the only accredited election observer, the electoral officials termed the action as misleading.
Duncan Sutherland had defended the move arguing that she was using the by-election to canvass voters.
In a statement today, the PNP standard-bearer said it was not her intention to interfere in any way or to obstruct the law or legitimate rules and regulations imposed by the electoral office.
She acknowledged that her actions on the day of the by-election caused great concerns.
“…having reflected and listened keenly to feedback about the issue, including perspectives from eminent counsel and electoral officials, I recognise that our actions were inappropriate.”
I have listened to the conversations over the past few days and I understand that my actions on the day of the by-election in South East Clarendon have caused great concern among well thinking Jamaicans and stewards of our electoral process.
My intent was not to interfere in any way or to obstruct the law or legitimate rules and regulations imposed by the Electoral Office.
The intent was to observe and not disrupt proceedings, while ensuring that my supporters and I were clad in clothing which may be considered as neutral. We had also endeavoured to make it clear that we were not participating in the election. Thus we wore white shirts with the term observer printed on the back.
However, having reflected and listened keenly to feedback about the issue, including perspectives from eminent Counsel and electoral officials, I recognise that our actions were inappropriate.
Consequently, I categorically apologise to the EOJ, the Political Ombudsman and to all well thinking Jamaican who have expressed concern about this issue.
I also hereby reaffirm my commitment to political conduct consistent with fairplay and within the rules and regulations which govern our electoral process.
I recognise that through the hard work of both political parties and other distinguished Jamaicans, our country’s electoral process has come a long way and is considered one of the very best in the world.
I take the opportunity to affirm my commitment to in the future eschew any conduct which may detract from the good functioning of our electoral system.