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Commissiong defeats sitting MP DeVent to be selected as PLP election candidate

Rolfe Commissiong smiles after defeating sitting MP Ashfield DeVent to become the PLP candidate to fight Prembroke South Central at the next election.

Rolfe Commissiong was last night selected as the Progressive Labour Party candidate for Pembroke South East on a night of drama at Alaska Hall.He defeated incumbent Ashfield DeVent, whose nine-year run as an MP is now almost certain to come to an end at the next general election.Mr Commissiong also beat Senator Jonathan Smith and former Bermuda Housing Corporation chairman Vance Campbell for the right to represent the PLP in its stronghold Constituency 21, which includes the back-of-town area.Meanwhile in Hamilton South, Darius Tucker's short-lived career as a PLP representative is also almost over after he lost a two-way battle to businessman and community worker Diallo Rabain.Mr Commissiong's battle with Mr DeVent has been keenly fought for months, with each strongly criticising the other's desired approach to solving the Island's social problems.Last night around 30 or 40 people attended the selection meeting, including MPs Dale Butler and Walter Lister. Although it wasn't clear how many of them were branch members and therefore able to vote, claps could be heard as each of the contenders made speeches throughout the night.After the count at around 9pm, Mr DeVent and Mr Campbell both emerged from the PLP's Court Street headquarters looking unhappy and declining to comment to the press; shortly afterwards Sen Smith left the building and waved away the media.Moments later, a grinning Mr Commissiong bounded out. He also refused to comment, but told the press as he marched to his car: “The voters have spoken.”The party later released a statement confirming the Government consultant had won but did not release the vote score.The PLP has recently changed its constitution to make it easier for newcomers to challenge incumbent MPs. Fourteen candidate selection meetings are taking place in the next three weeks under the new system based on branch level voting.But it's understood the party will also take into account polling results as it confirms its slate of candidates for the next general election. Mr Commissiong and Mr Rabain may now have to wait for confirmation on their selection from the PLP central committee.Mr Rabain, a new face to Bermuda politics who celebrated his 40th birthday yesterday, describes his political views on his Facebook page as liberal.He is a partner at the architectural design firm Compu-CAD Training and Services, a member of the National Training Board, and the president and district one director for the Epsilon Theta Lambda chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.In Hamilton South, the two contenders arrived early at Harrington Workmen's Club, to help carry in chairs and prepare the meeting room.About 30 branch members arrived for the selection process, with both men receiving applause after their speeches. They both emerged at around 8.30pm, but declined to comment. The PLP later confirmed Mr Rabain had won.Mr Tucker joined the PLP in July this year. He won the Hamilton South seat for the United Bermuda Party at the 2007 general election, but quit two years ago, serving as an Independent MP before crossing the floor.Tonight, two more long-serving PLP MPs could see the curtain begin to fall on their House of Assembly careers.In Southampton East, Speaker Stanley Lowe, a PLP MP for more than 30 years, is said to face challenges from former Senate Leader David Burch and Health Minister Zane DeSilva in a selection meeting at the New Apostle Church at 7pm.Sen Burch has publicly declared his interest in that seat; Mr DeSilva is said to be keen to switch from his current constituency, Southampton East Central, which is expected to swing towards the One Bermuda Alliance because of boundary changes.And in Southampton West, Deputy Speaker Randy Horton, an MP since 1998, is said to be challenged by lawyer Marc Daniels in a meeting at Dalton Tucker Primary School at 7.30pm.A busy week of jostling for position will continue tomorrow in Pembroke West Central, where Estates Minister Neletha Butterfield faces a challenge, possibly from Junior Finance Minister David Burt.Also tomorrow, the five-way contest to replace retiring Sandys South Central MP Walter Lister will take place between Senate Leader Kim Wilson, lawyer Larry Scott, party organiser Makai Dickerson, executive officer Dawn Simmons and member Marcus Jones.Next week, candidate selection meetings will take place in constituencies currently held by PLP backbencher Wayne Furbert, National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief, Community Development Minister Michael Weeks and backbencher Dennis Lister.Replacements for retiring MPs Elvin James and Alex Scott will be found at selection meetings over the next two weeks, while further battles will be fought in the seat Mr DeSilva is seeking to leave, and the former UBP stronghold Southampton West Central.Useful websites: www.plp.bm