BBC Caribbean
05 July, 2004

Seaga denies Golding rift

Former Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Seaga, who last week announced that he will step down as leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), has denied there is acrimony between him and his party chairman Bruce Golding.

This comes after it was revealed that Mr Seaga wrote a harshly critical letter to Mr Golding, who is one of the leading contenders for the JLP leadership.

In the letter, Mr Seaga told the party chairman that he was "an ineffective leader who failed to control his disrespectful rabble".

But in an interview in the Jamaica Gleaner on Sunday, Mr Seaga pointed out that in the letter which was intended to be private, he advised Mr Golding about his shortcomings, and it was purposely harsh in order to "shock him into understanding".

Mr Seaga regards Mr Golding as one of his protégés, and stressed that he was not seeking to damage his campaign and he hoped that the party chairman would heed the advice given because it would help him to be a better leader if he succeeded in the leadership race.

The 74-year-old admitted to the Jamaica Gleaner that inter-personal relations were not really his strong point, and in this regard, he should have worked harder to prevent mistakes he made during his tenure as leader.

When Mr Seaga spoke to BBC Caribbean Radio, he outlined what he felt the next JLP leader had to do in the future.

"Any leader of the JLP has to ensure that his leadership enforces the mission of the JLP, to protect the poor and disadvantaged, and to achieve growth so that the cake will be bigger and the slices will be more generous to everybody," he said.

Mr Seaga served as prime minister between 1980 and 1989 and has been leader of the Jamaica Labour Party since 1974.

He will step down as leader in November but will continue to represent the constituency of Western Kingston in Parliament.