UNITED STATES President Barack Obama yesterday placed a telephone call to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, congratulating her on her recent electoral victory.
A statement from the White House, the US president’s official residence, indicated that Obama also commended the Jamaican people for their dedication to democracy.
Simpson Miller on December 29 led her People’s National Party (PNP) to an emphatic 42-21 victory over the Andrew Holness-led Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
Karl Samuda, the campaign director for the JLP, has said his party lost the elections primarily because of the Manatt, Phelps & Phillips issue.
“It is clear that we underestimated the devastating effect that the entire Manatt, Phelps and Phillips issue had on the image of the party,” Samuda said.
“The PNP was successful in keeping it in the forefront. They were able to create the perception that the JLP was less than reliable and untrustworthy.”
The issue, which had its genesis in an extradition request from a New York grand jury for Tivoli Gardens don Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, had threatened to undermine the relationship between Jamaica and the United States.
Then Prime Minister Bruce Golding instructed his justice minister, Dorothy Lightbourne, not to sign the authority to proceed against Coke, saying the fugitive’s constitutional rights were breached. There was a nine-month stand-off between both governments over the issue, which ended only after Lightbourne gave instructions for Coke to be arrested.
Coke then waived his right to a hearing in Jamaica and was extradited to the US where he pleaded guilty to racketeering. He is to be sentenced next Tuesday.
Golding resigned last October and was succeeded by Holness. There is no record of Obama having placed a phone call to him.
Jamaica House yesterday said Obama offered the continued support of the United States government to Jamaica and the Jamaican people.
At the same time, the White House said the leaders discussed their shared responsibility for enhancing citizen security and underscored the importance of economic growth in advancing the well-being of all Jamaicans.
“President Obama also underscored the strong bonds of friendship between the American and Jamaican people, which includes the contributions of so many Jamaican-Americans,” the White House said.
“The president said he looked forward to working with the prime minister on bilateral and regional issues at the Summit of the Americas, which will occur in April in Cartagena, Colombia,” the statement added.