“Dudus” still a factor in Jamaica
KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – The main opposition People’s National Party (PNP) has called for the dismissal of National Security Minister Dwight Nelson as the controversy over the extradition of convicted drug dealer Christopher “Dudus” Coke continues here.
73 people were killed during the May 2010 event to serve a warrant on Coke, who was wanted in the United States on drugs and gun trafficking charges. Coke was extradited after surrendering to law enforcement officials. He now awaits sentencing having pleaded guilty to a charge of gun and drug trafficking.
PNP general secretary Peter Bunting made the request after the Andrew Holness government acknowledged that a US surveillance aircraft provided assistance to local security forces in the May 24 operation in West Kingston to apprehend Nelson.
Prime Minister Holness has insisted that while the United States provided a surveillance aircraft, the US military did not participate in the action on the ground.
He told a news conference Thursday that the Jamaica government had accepted an offer from the US to assist with “imagery and communication” consistent with relevant cooperation agreements.
“The request was made and formalised by diplomatic note,” he said, adding that there was no need to seek permission from the Minister of National Security, Dwight Nelson.
“The Minister of National Security and the Ministry of National Security would not be involved in that. We must always bear in mind that the operations in Tivoli Gardens were led by the Jamaica Defence Force and therefore at that point, they would not know the details that they would require,” the Prime Minister said.
But speaking at a news conference, Bunting, the PNP spokesman on national security, told reporters that Prime Minister Holness and Nelson must “‘come clean” on the issue contending that there were indifferences between the accounts of Nelson and what the Prime Minister said during a news conference on Thursday.
“With respect to his suitability, and the fact that he holds a position of trust, it is clear that he is not trustworthy or not competent, so we are calling on the prime minister to replace him, or for him to resign,” said Bunting.
Bunting, flanked by senior PNP officials, suggested that it was inconceivable for the country to be told that the national security minister was not aware of the details relating to the use of the aircraft.
He said there was a meeting of the country’s Defence Board on May 23 and Nelson, in his capacity as minister of national security would have to be in attendance.
“Our information is that a meeting was held and that either or both minister Dwight Nelson and his permanent Secretary attended that meeting,” said Bunting.
Former minister K D Knight said that Nelson, the Prime Minister, Chief of Defence Staff Major General Antony Anderson and the permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security are all members of the Defence Board.
The PNP said the party had no issue with the assistance provided by the United States Government but remains curious about the reason why the Government of Jamaica chose to withhold the information.
Bunting’s theory is that the Government’s reluctance to come clean on the matter was due to the fact that the assistance from Washington had similarities to a controversial Memorandum of Understanding which the Patterson administration had signed with the United States.
The JLP administration has consistently criticised the agreement which was spearheaded by then national security Minister, Dr Peter Phillips, on the basis that it violated the constitutional rights of Jamaicans.