KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC ? A candidate for main opposition People?s National Party (PNP) lost his bid to be named as the parliamentary representative for the North West Clarendon constituency, after the High Court ruled in favour of a by-election.
High Court judge Lloyd Hibbert disagreed with the arguments by the lawyers for Richard Azan who wanted the seat awarded to him after the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) successful candidate in the 2007 general elections, Michael Stern, had been disqualified by the courts on the grounds that he had dual citizenship when he was nominated to contest the election.
Prime Minister and JLP leader Bruce Golding, who had warned that he was prepared to call fresh general elections if the opposition candidate was to enter Parliament through the courts, is now set to announce a by-election date.
Political observers say the ruling was not unexpected as they felt the judge would have followed the precedent set in earlier dual citizenship cases.
Kirk Anderson, the attorney for Stern, who admitted that he was the holder of a United States passport at the time of his nomination, had argued that seat should not be handed to Azan and that a by-election should be held.
But attorney Abe Dabdoub, representing Azan, asked Justice Hibbert to find that Stern was not properly nominated on August 7, 2007 and as such the election should be declared void and the seat awarded to Azan, “the only properly nominated”.
Azan, who had filed the petition shortly after his loss to Stern, contended that the new MP was not qualified to sit in Parliament as he had sworn allegiance to a foreign power, in contravention of the Jamaican Constitution.
In the 2007 general election, the JLP defeated the then incumbent PNP by a 32 to 28 margin to take control of the 60-seat Parliament
In the past, the PNP has successful challenged two JLP candidates over dual citizenship but it has failed to win any of the by-elections held afterwards.
Another election petition filed by the PNP’s Oswest Senior Smith is pending against Shahine Robinson, the JLP MP for North East St Ann constituency.