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Jamaica Opposition Calls for Elections After Golding Resigns

Jamaica’s opposition called on the ruling party to hold elections after Prime Minister Bruce Golding said he would step down.

Golding announced yesterday that he would resign once a new Labor Party leader is elected, saying in a statement that the last four years “have taken their toll.” National elections are scheduled for October 2012.

The government should call for an immediate vote as a lack of leadership threatens to set the “economy adrift,” said Peter Bunting, general secretary of the People’s National Party.

“Why waste a whole year not focused on running the country,” Bunting said in a phone interview from Kingston. “Go back for a fresh mandate now and allow Jamaicans to elect a party that can get us out of the quagmire that we’re stuck in.”

Opposition to Golding hardened after at least 74 people, mostly civilians, died last year in confrontations between police and supporters of accused drug lord Christopher “Dudus” Coke in Kingston, the capital. Coke was captured and handed over to U.S. authorities in June 2010, where he pleaded guilty to narcotics trafficking and weapons charges.

Mike Henry, a spokesman for Golding’s ruling Labor Party, said a new prime minister will be nominated when the party holds a conference on Nov. 20.

“We have a number of persons who could take over the role,” Henry said in a phone interview from Kingston.

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