According to the Prime Minister, "the public should bear in mind that the Leader of the Opposition while accepting the Prime Minister’s invitation to meet, has flatly rejected the purpose of the meeting, which is to discuss the extension of the State of Emergency.
"The Government does not wish to make security into a political football nor do we wish to engage in meaningless talk," the prime minister said. "The Government has always sought a united position on security matters and would welcome the cooperation of the Opposition even at this late stage," said Holness who cautioned that " such cooperation must be genuine and meaningful."
Holness chided the Opposition with being "either confused or disingenuous, [as] on one hand, they outrightly reject the successful use of the States of Emergency, which are recommended by the security professionals and which could continue to bring further gains. While, on the other hand, the Opposition is advocating for actions that could only be carried out under the legal framework of a State of Emergency."
However, the PNP in a statement late this evening, said it regarded the Prime Minister’s assertion that Dr Phillips responded negatively, as not only factually incorrect, but it gives an impression that what was expected is a rubber stamping of the JLP government’s position.
The PNP in its statement lamented that "there is nothing to be gained from making national security into a political football," pointing out that "the Opposition remains ready, as we have always been, to discuss any and all national security issues, within the context of the provisions of the Jamaican Constitution and the vote of the Parliamentary Opposition in the House of Representatives on December 12, 2018.
The Opposition chided the government for its "attempt at one-upmanship [which] is neither necessary nor helpful in the present situation, as the Opposition is firm on its position, which was arrived at after careful consideration of all the constitutional and human rights issues as well as the usefulness of States of Emergency over an extended period."
The PNP in its statement reiterated that "all the security operations, except for arbitrary detention can be maintained."
Dr. Phillips had led extensive discussions with the private sector, human rights and civil society groups to explain the issues in great detail, and had so indicated in his letter to the Prime Minister of his willingness to meet with him and all the interest groups. “Nothing has changed since that response,” the Opposition said.
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