All the senators nominated by the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) have thrown their support behind Prime Minister Bruce Golding, beleaguered with calls for his resignation by the opposition, human rights and church groups after he told parliament on Tuesday the party had hired a law firm to lobby the US government over a treaty dispute related to a JLP supporter, Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, wanted in the US on drugs and gun running charges.
“All 13 Government Senators hereby place on record our full support of, and confidence in the Honourable Bruce Golding as Leader of the Jamaica Labour Party and Prime Minister of Jamaica,” said a statement issued from the Office of the Prime Minister late Friday after rumours carried by at least one radio station that Golding had decided to step down.
“We are of the view that no impropriety took place in the Manatt, Phelps & Phillips affair, which involves the Jamaica Labour Party,” said the statement which followed a meeting at Vale Royal, Golding’s residence in a Kingston suburb, where the party leadership huddled to fight back at critics who have condemned the seeming inconsistency in the prime minister’s utterances on the matter.
In a March 16 speech Golding denied the involvement of the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) in hiring the lobbyists, who insist they were hired by a Jamaican lawyer, Harold Brady, acting for the administration. Golding suggested he did not know who had hired the firm and announced that a party member and parliamentarian, Karl Samuda would investigate the matter and make a report.
Samuda reported that members of the JLP had taken the initiative on behalf of the government of Jamaica to hire lobbyists.
On Tuesday in parliament Golding said he had approved the party initiative.
“I sanctioned the initiative, knowing that such interventions have in the past proven to be of considerable value in dealing with issues involving the governments of both countries,” Golding said in the House of Representatives Tuesday.
“We acknowledge that the Prime Minister told the country the truth when he said in March that the Government of Jamaica had not retained Manatt Phelps &Phillips to act on behalf of the Government of Jamaica, and that remains true today. We commend the Prime Minister for his forthrightness to the country in his statement to Parliament in which he acknowledged that as Leader of the Jamaica Labour Party, he sanctioned the Party’s initiative in retaining Manatt Phelps & Phillips.
“As Government Senators, we remain convinced that Prime Minister Bruce Golding’s leadership of the country is required to continue the turn-around of the Jamaican economy which is taking place and to put Jamaica on a safe path for the future.”