The Governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People’s National Party (PNP) led by their respective leaders, Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Mark Golding, MP, met on Sunday, (February 27, 2022) for discussions under the Vale Royal Talks framework.
The three and a half-hour dialogue was hosted by the University of the West Indies around an agenda which included National Security, Constitutional Reform, Health and Jamaica 60 commemorations.
Prime Minister Holness and PNP President Mark Golding, MP, both gave opening remarks which set the tone of the meeting.
For his part, Prime Minister Holness noted that “It is important particularly in our form of democracy, where two political parties dominate, that there is a means by which both political parties can meet and discuss issues affecting the nation.”
The Prime Minister was positive about the prospects of the talks contributing to greater consensus on challenging national issues, “The talks, (in the past) have been successful and have assisted in reaching an understanding, particularly on critical national issues.”
In this regard, the Prime Minister committed to ensuring their continuation.
This being the first iteration of the Vale Royal Talks since becoming President of the People’s National Party, Mr Golding said, “This is something we’ve been asking for from as far back as my budget presentation in March 2021, and I hope the talks will be fruitful.”
Speaking on behalf of the PNP, Mr Golding committed to approaching the Vale Royal Talks from the standpoint of, “openness and good faith, with frank and open discussions.” He said, “It is within that context that we hope to reach a level of understanding of the approach that guides the PM’s actions, and hopefully we will find common ground in moving forward to achieve a safe Jamaica.”
The JLP delegation was represented by Party Leader the Most Honourable Andrew Holness, Dr Horace Chang – General Secretary, Dr Aundre Franklyn – Deputy Chairman, Marlene Malahoo Forte, and Robert Nesta Morgan, Chairman of the JLP’s PR Committee.
The PNP was represented by: Party President Mark Golding, MP, Dr Angela Brown Burke – Chairman, Dr Dayton Campbell – General Secretary, Senator Donna Scott Mottley, Senator Peter Bunting and Nekeisha Burchell – Deputy General Secretary.
The dialogue was guided by the Chatham House Rule, and both sides engaged in full and frank dialogue with a shared commitment to reaching consensus, where possible, and obtaining a better understanding from which to move forward.