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Maroon power vacuum – Battle lines drawn in Accompong as leadership squabble stirs debate

Source: Paul Williams, Jamaica Gleaner

In the Sovereign State of Accompong, St Elizabeth, a political stalemate of sorts is brewing among the Trelawney (sic) Town Maroons. On one side is the incumbent, Colonel Sydney Peddie, whose term in office comes to an end on July 14. On the other is the Full Maroon Council.


Richard Robinson (second left) and some of his supporters in the Maroon enclave of Accompong Town, St Elizabeth. - Photo by Paul Williams

Yet Article 1, Section 1 of The Constitution of the Trelawney Town Maroons says, “All legislative power herein shall be vested in the colonel in conjunction with the Full Maroon Council.”

According to Richard Robinson, co-chair of the Full Maroon Council, the end had already come for Peddie. That was on May 28, when Peddie should have stepped down to make way for fresh elections.

“Right now, the Full Maroon Council is overseeing the ‘runnings’ and acting as the interim leadership until a colonel is elected,” Robinson stated.

Peddie said he was the one who had suggested May 28 in anticipation of the July elections. But since Accompong Town is a sovereign state, it has to pay the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) to run the elections. Peddie said the state cannot come up with the money and, as such, no EOJ-run elections are going to be held near future.

So, what is going to happen?

“I intend to set up a board of elders to run things until election victory,” Peddie said. The constitution, however, does not make provision for such a board.

As such, Robinson said the Full Maroon Council has taken over the public facilities in Accompong Town and Peddie was not the colonel. The governor general, prime minister, leader of the opposition, cellphone tower operators and Peddie himself have been duly informed of the developments, he told The Gleaner.

Lock changed

However, Peddie has denied receiving any such notification, and as far as he was concerned, the public facilities were not under the control of The Full Maroon Council.

“Nothing like that … . I am still colonel,” he said calmly, though he admitted that the lock on the community centre had been changed and certain important documents removed.

Again, the constitution says, “All public entities shall be under the jurisdiction of the Full Maroon Council, which shall include but not be limited to the community centre, Bickle Village, development centre, library, museum, monument, Peace Cave, Kindah Grounds, Old Town, and all other public entities.”

Robinson is suggesting that the traditional Maroon way of voting for their leaders be used. He said their inability to run their own elections did not augur well for the Accompong Maroons.

“As far as the council is concerned, we might have to dictate the way the elections should go if the EOJ cannot run the elections,” Robinson, who withdrew from the race to be colonel, stated.

In this ‘man-behind-man’ method, the voters queue up behind the candidates they intend to vote for, in full view of all, for transparency.

“That has been suggested by the Maroons in Portland, and we are going to have a meeting with them next week to discuss that thing,” said Peddie. “We might have to go down that route, really.”

However, the colonel said this would be difficult as Maroons who are living outside of Accompong would have to journey all the way to the region just to vote, unlike EOJ-run polls which facilitated about eight electoral sites islandwide.

The constitution does not allow the setting up of polling stations outside of Accompong Town. Section 6 says, “The only official polling stations shall be located in Accompong Town in the parish of St Elizabeth. Only ballots cast in Accompong Town shall be counted as valid.”

The problem is, the colonel does not recognise the constitution which he himself signed on February 16, 2004, along with Veronica Smith-Harris, justice of the peace and principal of Accompong Primary and Junior High School. Other witnesses were Rupert Robinson, Melville Currie and William Anderson.

In scoffing at the eight-article document, Peddie claimed, “The constitution, it has been proven through the courts that it’s nothing [to adhere to] … . Not because I signed it, there are some things that are wrong (with it).

“… I am not going by any constitution. It needs a lot of ratifications really about it … . There is everything wrong about it. They know as well,” Peddie insisted.

This constitution, he said, had vested too much power in The Full Maroon Council, and needed to be redrafted. The preamble declares: “The colonel shall not have the sole power and/or authority to enter into any agreement on behalf of the Trelawney Town Maroons of the Sovereign State of Accompong without the consent of the Full Council.”

Section 17 states: “The colonel is responsible for the executive and administrative operation of the town. The colonel shall report to the Full Maroon Council … . All negotiations on behalf of the town by the colonel must be approved by the full council before it is enacted … . The colonel and his executive council shall hold monthly meetings and provide the Full Maroon Council with the minutes of the meetings.”

Operational authority

Peddie told The Gleaner that he believed the Maroon constitution stripped the leader of sufficient operational authority.

“What I don’t like about the constitution is that it set up a body called the Full Council. They are in charge of everything.

“When the colonel gets elected, he’s just a figurehead; he has no voice … . That is a thing I can’t put up with at all … . I am not working with it at all.”


This entry was posted on July 8, 2009 by in Jamaica News (archived 2009-2013) and tagged , , , , .
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