The political tension in Jamaica has predictably increased in the lead up to Thursday's general election. The latest issue has involved a debate between incumbent Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller and her opponent, Andrew Holness.
After Holness referred to Simpson-Miller as a "con artist" earlier this month, the prime minister is now saying she will only take part in a debate if the opposition leader apologized for what she considers derogatory statements made towards her.
On Sunday, the leaders, who have been handing the premiership between each other since 2006, will both attend separate party rallies to mark the end of campaigning.
The ruling People’s National Party will hold its gathering at Montego Bay, where Simpson-Miller will address the party faithful, while Holness' Jamaica Labour Party will meet at Half Way Tree.
On Thursday, the PNP unveiled its manifesto, a 68-page document which highlights the Simpson-Miller government’s claimed achievements and plans for the future.
“The groundwork has been laid, the platform is in place, as we move forward with determination and optimism, confident in the knowledge that we are on our way to building a more equitable and prosperous Jamaica of which we and future generations can be justly proud,” said Simpson-Miller, Jamaica's first female prime minister.
Former Prime Minister Holness and his Jamaica Labour Party have been campaigning on a platform of change, particularly for the economy.
Over the past month, Holness has used his public appearances to push for tax reform in Jamaica, stating that a government under his watch would provide jobs for 118,000 working-class Jamaicans, putting as many as 18,000 Jamaican dollars (almost US$150) a month in their pockets and driving economic growth.
The Labour Party's manifesto, "Partnership for Prosperity," outlines a 10-point plan for growth and job creation. It includes listing a number of state-owned enterprises on the Jamaica Stock Exchange, a promise to fix the country’s water infrastructure, the rebuilding of town centers and cities, and the establishment of a ministry of economic growth and job creation.
Jamaica’s Parliament was dissolved Feb. 5, with elections constitutionally required to take place by March 2017.