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DeSilva backing Burt to lead PLP

Zane DeSilva (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Progressive Labour Party MP Zane DeSilva has ruled himself out of running for the leadership of the party saying he stands “firmly behind David Burt” to take the top position.

Mr DeSilva was responding to reports by a source close to the party telling this newspaper that Mr DeSilva and Shadow Minister for Public Works and Environment Dennis Lister had been “seeking support” from delegates following Marc Bean’s retirement from politics on Friday.

Mr DeSilva said: “I deny that I am going for the leadership. I can confirm that I am firmly behind David Burt. I am definitely not running.”

The source told us that the two MPs had been contacting delegates mainly through phone calls to discuss the leadership. Mr Lister could not be contacted by press time.

He was tipped by political commentator Phil Perinchief last week as the best option to lead the PLP through the election as a neutral member of the party — even if he did not ultimately remain so.

PLP party chairman Scott Simmons confirmed last night that a delegates conference is to go ahead this evening as scheduled despite an unexpected clash with the day of the delayed Throne Speech delivery. He said that the party would fulfil its constitutional obligation to name a leader within seven days of the former leader ending his tenure.

Mr Simmons said: “While we are discussing other matters [at the conference] I would suspect that we will listen to the delegates and we will listen to what it is they would like to discuss.

“I would suspect the leadership will come up in our meetings but I cannot confirm that.

“It is a special delegates’ conference and we do have a constitutional requirement to find a replacement within seven days and we are going to meet that.

“That discussion can only be determined by the delegates and they will decide whether they wish to discuss it, but they are mindful that there is a seven- day requirement and so I would anticipate that they will want to have that discussion.”

Asked whether anyone had formally put their names forward, Mr Simmons replied: “I believe there is a process that we have in that we will let our executive know and then we will let the delegates know who those individuals are if there are any and I think we shall follow through with that.”

Mr Bean’s resignation also spells a by-election for Constituency 26 — Warwick South Central.

Mr Simmons, on behalf of the executive committee, trustees, delegates, members and supporters of the PLP, thanked Mr Bean for stepping into the role of leader “at a challenging time following our 2012 election defeat.”

Acknowledging the sacrifice of Mr Bean’s family members Mr Simmons went on to say: “Under his leadership, the PLP has achieved much, including blocking anti-Bermudian policies in Parliament, winning two bye-elections and re-establishing community focused fundraisers that defied the economy and addressed the shortfalls on our party balance sheets.

“It is without doubt, that Marc Bean made a political career of emphasising the party’s position on good governance, education reform, and fiscal responsibility which are essential for social stability and prosperity.”