West Indies pace bowler-turned-politician Daren Powell has switched allegiance from the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) to the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
Powell has been tight-lipped since a photo emerged of him smiling while clad in a JLP shirt at Sunday’s JLP annual conference at the National Arena, making the party’s ‘V’ sign in the company of South East St Elizabeth Member of Parliament Franklyn Witter and JLP Chairman Robert Montague.
Persons close to the situation have said that Powell told them he was not yet ready to talk to the media about his decision to switch sides.
Powell served the PNP as councillor for the Malvern division in South East St Elizabeth, having defeated the JLP’s Donald Simpson in the 2012 local government elections.
He faltered in his attempt to bowl out J.C. Hutchinson, the JLP’s long-standing North West St Elizabeth MP, in the 2016 general election, losing by 914 votes. He polled 4,952 votes to Hutchinson’s 5,866.
That defeat appeared to have dashed any hopes Powell had of representing the people of that constituency.
PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson said losing Powell to the JLP would not affect the party’s chances in the next election as he has not been active in North West St Elizabeth since 2016.
Robinson said that the PNP is in a strong position in St Elizabeth as a whole, with three of four standard-bearers for the parish in place, with North West St Elizabeth expected to be settled soon.
The PNP general secretary expressed confidence in the other three standard-bearers, saying that medical doctor Dwaine Spencer was showing to be a strong alternative to the JLP’s Witter in South East St Elizabeth, while Basil Waite’s chances are strong in North East St Elizabeth because of his history in the constituency.
“Spencer has a private practice in Junction and his family is well known throughout the constituency. Businessman Ewan Stephenson is also looking good in South West and he, too, is a household name. They are all good candidates,” said Robinson.
PNP Region Five Chairman Mikael Phillips confirmed that Powell had not been active for the PNP since 2016.
“Mr Powell has not been involved with the party since the 2016 loss. He has not done any political work for the People’s National Party since then, and right after the elections he disappeared,” said Phillips.
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