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Speech

Tomorrow afternoon, as you know, I will demit office and we will witness the swearing-in of the Honourable Andrew Holness as the new Prime Minister of Jamaica.

He will become one of the youngest Heads of Government in the entire world. His youthfulness, however, belies the tremendous ability he brings to the job, as demonstrated in the transformational leadership he has shown as the Minister of Education. He has a clear vision of Jamaica, a vision that stretches beyond the next election, beyond many elections. He deserves the support of all Jamaicans in the formidable tasks on which he is now embarked.

This has been a remarkable and virtually seamless transition of leadership as the majority parliamentary group and the Jamaica Labour Party have coalesced behind him as the choice to lead the country, so much so, that it has been possible to bring forward, by four weeks, the formal handing over of office.

I leave this job with strong emotions:

Firstly, humbled and honoured that I was allowed the opportunity to lead my country and to do so during some of the most difficult times we have ever had to face.

Secondly, satisfied that we have put in place the foundation on which the country now has a chance to achieve the economic growth and development that have for so long eluded us.

Thirdly, proud of the progress we have made in reforming our structures of governance even as I regret that, despite the considerable work that has been done, there are still critical reform initiatives yet to be fully implemented. I have made one request of Andrew and that is that he does everything possible to complete the reform programme which is a commitment we made to the people of Jamaica during the last elections.

The emergence of a new leader brings with it new hope and great expectations. That hope must be used to inspire us to a renewed effort by each of us, every single Jamaican, to do our part in building this nation, in overcoming the many challenges that confront us.

No government, whether led by me, Andrew or anyone else, can do it alone. Our chances of success lie in our ability to set aside our differences, to find unity despite our diversity and to coalesce behind a common set of objectives and the strategies to achieve them.

Our competitive political process does not encourage that but it can and must be made to facilitate it. Vested interests must be submerged into the common interest so that we can move forward, in single formation with a single purpose, to make Jamaica a better place for all of us to live. We must march into the future, not let the future take us by surprise.

And the expectations that this moment brings must be tempered by the realities of our times, the considerable ground that we have to make up and the turbulence of the world in which we live. The journey may be long and harsh but we will find the fortitude, that extra energy, that capacity, once we are confident that our compass is set on the right track and that we are tackling the journey together.

As I leave office, my heart salutes Jamaica, proud, free and well positioned to be triumphant.

May God bless each and every one of you. May God bless this land that He gave us, this land we so dearly love.