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JM | Jan 9, 2022

Accompong chief vows response to Holness’ stance on Maroon sovereignty

Gavin Riley

Gavin Riley / Our Today

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Accompong leader Colonel Richard Currie. (Photo: Instagram @chiefrichardcurrie)

Leader of the Accompong Maroons, Colonel Richard Currie, has promised to directly respond to the Jamaican Government over comments Prime Minister Andrew Holness made in reference to the St Elizabeth-based enclave on Sunday (January 9).

Currie, in an Instagram post tagging Holness specifically, indicated that his official address would take place around 7:00 pm.

Hours earlier, an incensed prime minister warned Jamaicans not to take lightly when groups within the nation seek to separate themselves in so-called populist movements against the State.

(Photo: Instagram @ChiefRichardCurrie)

Holness, speaking during a virtual press conference at Jamaica House, declared emphatically that the only recognised sovereignty upheld is that of the politically elected Government of Jamaica.

Seemingly in direct retort to assertions of autonomy from the Currie-led Accompong Maroons, Holness contended that the duly elected government under the Jamaican Constitution is the sole authority.

“There are some threats that the average citizen looking on might think it is innocuous, it is popular and take a liking to it. Because the discussions that are held in places that should know better, does not highlight the threat. Jamaica is a unitary sovereign state. There is no other sovereign authority in Jamaica other than the Government of Jamaica. I want that to be absolutely clear. None!” Holness argued.

“Under my leadership not one inch of Jamaica will come under any other sovereign authority. What you are asking is for the Government of Jamaica to take taxpayers’ money and grant funds to fund another government. This is not a Government that is saying it is a local government or a parish council government which is under our constitution. This is how guerrilla wars come about and how states break down. Wake up Jamaica. Don’t court foolishness and problems. Wake up. People have died as a result and you expect me to stand here as prime minister and fund activities that could lead to the breakdown of our state. Never!” he exclaimed further.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness speaking at Sunday’s OPM press conference. Photo taken from live broadcast on January 9, 2022. (Photo: YouTube.com)

Holness’ comments follow a line of parries between the Jamaican State and Accompong since August 2021.

Back then, tensions flared as Maroon farmers stood their ground against purported rogue operatives attached to the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

The Maroons, clinging to their colonially revered autonomy, and led by Currie, fought back repeated confrontations in what they called an armed extortion racket targeting marijuana cultivation.

Not long after the heated standoff, Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang commended the actions of the cops, adding that to his knowledge, there is ‘no such thing as maroon land’.

Tense scenes in Bethsalem, St Elizabeth as Maroon farmers confront armed men allegedly found in the ‘sovereign territory’ on August 10, 2021. (Photo sourced from video | Instagram @ChiefRichardCurrie)

The suggestion by Chang deeply offended the self-proclaimed ‘State of the Cockpit Country’, with Currie drafting ‘battle lines’ in an ominous statement that his Maroons would play the ‘modern warfare’ game if the Government of Jamaica continues to infringe on its independence.

Most recently, the JCF put Accompong in its crosshairs again as the police urged organisers of the Annual Maroon Fest to cancel the highly anticipated event last Wednesday.

The JCF, arguing that no approval was granted by either the St Elizabeth Police or the Ministry of Health and Wellness, added that despite its historical significance, the annual January 6 festival breaches provisions of the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA).

Subsequently, Currie announced that no such cancellation of Maroon Fest would be considered, counterarguing that his people should be afforded the same privileges as Muslim pilgrims to celebrate their traditional ceremonies.

Scenes from the 2016 staging of the Annual Maroon Fest in Accompong, meant to celebrate Maroon victory over the British in the First Maroon War. (Photo: JIS)

Minister of Culture Olivia Grange later revealed yesterday that the police were perhaps ‘left in the dark’ as Maroon Fest was given the Government stamp of approval through the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM).

A nighttime shooting in Accompong later marred the event, which claimed the life of Bethsalem native Lloyd David. Five others, including two children, were left nursing gunshot wounds at the Black River Hospital.

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