- RUDOLPH BROWN/Chief Photographer
Dr. Kenneth Baugh (left), newly-appointed leader of the Opposition, is greeted by Jamaica Labour Party colleagues Olivia 'Babsy' Grange (centre), and Pearnel Charles at the party's Belmont Road headquarters yesterday.
Dionne Rose, Staff Reporter
DR. KENNETH Baugh, member of Parliament for West Central St. Catherine and former Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) general secretary, was yesterday selected to replace Edward Seaga as Opposition leader.
Mr. Seaga resigned on Wednesday after serving more than 40 years in representational politics, the last 15 as Opposition leader.
The selection was made at a meeting with the parliamentary group of the JLP at its Belmont Road office in Kingston.
Dr. Horace Chang, member of Parliament for St. James North West, told The Gleaner that the selection was by 'consensus'. "We agreed by consensus that Dr. Baugh would be the interim leader of the Opposition," he said.
Derrick Smith, leader of Opposition business in the House, also took a letter to Governor-General, Sir Howard Cooke, to inform him of the choice. The Gleaner understands that the governor-general would be meeting with the group later today to make the appointment official.
Dr. Chang also indicated that the handing over of the Instrument of Authority to Dr. Baugh would be made some time next week.
Meanwhile, a mildly jubilant Dr. Baugh said he was happy to have been chosen, adding, "I am very grateful for the support of my colleagues."
NO AMBITION TO LEAD THE JLP
He, however, made it clear that he harbours no ambition to lead the JLP into a general election, saying he was only holding the position until "Bruce Golding gets a parliamentary seat."
"It is near certainty that Bruce Golding will be the new JLP leader," Dr. Baugh said. "Following this, he should win the seat in West Kingston and make his long-awaited re-entry into Gordon House. When this happens, I will resign and make way for him to become the Opposition leader."
Pressed on whether it was not a tempting thought for him to now throw his hat in the ring and test Mr. Golding in the race for JLP leader, Dr. Baugh gave an unequivocal 'no'.
"The JLP is very united on the way forward," he said. "Bruce Golding is the person we will be rallying around ... There will be no splinter group ... We will go forward as a very united party."
Following Wednesday's announcement by Pearnel Charles that he has abandoned his quest to vie for the JLP leadership, it is now all but certain that Mr. Golding will go up unopposed in the race to succeed Mr. Seaga. The JLP chairman is also expected to win the vacant Western Kingston seat and put himself in line to be a future prime minister.
Dr. Baugh, a medical doctor by profession, took a break from representational politics after the Seaga-led JLP lost the 1989 parliamentary elections. He returned to active politics in the late 1990s and was returned to the House of Representatives following the 2002 elections.