Jamaica gained independence from Britain in 1962, and the Jamaican Labour Party (JLP) and the People’s National Party (PNP) have since shared power through free and fair elections. Prime Minister Percival J. Patterson (PNP) has been leading the country since 1992 but recently announced he would step down. Party leadership elections have been announced for February 2006. There are two serious candidates to replace him as party leader and de facto Prime Minister: Peter Philips and Portia Simpson-Miller. Phillips is the Minister of National Security and has greater support and backing within Parliament and the PNP, while Simpson-Miller, the Minister of Local Government, Community Development and Sports, has greater grassroots support. National elections must be held some time in 2007.