In an address to the nation last night, Golding argued that the time was right to unleash the creativity of the youth, even as the 39-year-old Andrew Holness and the 43-year-old Christopher Tufton vie to replace him.
It was a slap in the face for other JLP leadership aspirants, including the 59-year-old Audley Shaw, the 70-year-old Dr Ken Baugh and the 76-year-old Mike Henry.
“I was first elected to Parliament almost 40 years ago. In the next two months, I will be 64. I feel it is time for me and people like me to make way and allow a new crop of leaders to step forward and unleash their energies and creativity,” Golding said.
“There are young people in my party, indeed in both parties, who are capable of providing the leadership that the country requires at this time. We must not, for the sake of personal ambition, block their emergence,” added Golding in a presentation that should give a boost to Holness and Tufton.
According to Golding: “It is time for my generation to make way for younger people whose time has come, who are more in sync with 21st-century realities, whose vision can have a longer scope and who can bring new energy to the enormous tasks that confront us.
“The leaders of major countries around the world – for example, the United States, Britain, Canada, Mexico, Spain, the Netherlands, Finland, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Australia and New Zealand – are all more than 10 years younger than I am. It is a worldwide trend and we in Jamaica should not resist it.”
In the meantime, Golding skirted around the issues that led to his decision to walk away more than three years earlier than he had originally planned.
The prime minister also failed to address speculation that his decision to quit in November was linked to pressure from international governments.
Dudus issue a factor
But he disclosed that the extradition request for convicted west Kingston strongman Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke and his handling of the matter, including the hiring of the United States law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, helped to shape his decision.
“Questions about the role I played in the Coke-Manatt matter have remained a source of concern in the minds of many people. It was never about Coke’s guilt or innocence,” said Golding as he again sought to justify his determined stance on the matter.
“… The entire episode has affected me deeply and the perceptions that are held by some people have not been dispelled, notwithstanding the exhaustive deliberations of a commission of enquiry,” Golding said.
He claimed: “I cannot allow the challenges we face and the issues that we as a people must confront to be smothered or overpowered by this saga and the emotions that they ignite. It would not be fair to my country; it would not be fair to my party.”