Holness Calls for End to Garrisons

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - October 24, 2011

Above Jamaican PM Andrew Holness (Photo: OPM)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

New Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness says he will engage Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller in dialogue aimed at dismantling Jamaica’s garrison communities from the political landscape.

Holness, who, at 39, is Jamaica’s youngest-ever leader and its first born after independence, called for a “new type of politics to emerge,” aimed at removing what he called challenges and restrictions faced by some in the country’s garrison communities.

“Zones of political exclusion are incompatible with freedom, and aspects of our politics are an affront to liberty,” he said. “It is time to end garrison politics.”

The garrison communities are effectively political neighbourhoods, with a largely unanimous philosophical makeup. Most notable in Jamaica is Kingston’s Tivoli Gardens, the scene of some of the worst violence in the country in some time in 2010 during the crisis over the extradition of Christopher Coke.

“It is not only that the rest of Jamaica is locked out of these communities,” he said. “I am concerned that the residents of these closed communities are locked off from the rest of Jamaica.”

Holness’ first plan is for leaders from both sides of the aisle to walk together in these areas. The Prime Minister offered to walk with Miller in Tower Hill, which is located in his home constituency, and in Whitfield Town, which is in Miller’s.

Earlier today, Governor General Sir Patrick Allen swore in the first two members of Holness’ cabinet, Finance Minister Audley Shaw and Minister of National Security Sen. Dwight Nelson, both of whom were serving in those posts under Bruce Golding.

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