Less than a year after she led the People’s National Party (PNP) into defeat in the general elections, Portia Simpson Miller, is stepping down a few days shy of her 71st birthday.
Simpson Miller, who served as prime minister on two occasions, told the PNP National Executive Council meeting on Sunday “I will leave you as party leader but I will always be with you”.
Simpson Miller had resisted calls for her to step down after she led the then ruling PNP into defeat in the February 25 general election that saw Andrew Holness return to the helm of government for a second time.
She also led the party to defeat in Local Government Elections last week.
Simpson Miller is expected to step down by next September when the party holds its election.
The youth arm of the party, Peoples National Party Youth Organisation (PNPYO), had called for her resignation, saying there was need for a change in the political vision.
Former president of the Senate, Floyd Morris, said that Simpson Miller, who first became prime minister in 2007 when PJ Patterson bowed out of politics, was forced out by persons she brought into the party.
“It hurt my heart to see how the Comrade leader was treated, even by some of the people she brought into this movement,” he told the National Executive Council.
Morris said Simpson Miller had indicated that she would steer the party through last Monday’s local government elections, which the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) won.
“We should never have treated her that way. All we had to do was wait,” he said adding “I feel it to the bottom of my heart,”.
Outgoing PNP General Secretary Paul Burke, saying the party under Simpson Miller had “stood in the gap for this movement.”
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