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Early local gov't by-election expected in Yallahs

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

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ST THOMAS, Jamaica — Member of Parliament for St Thomas Western, James Robertson, says that he has no doubt that a date will be named soon for the holding of a by-election in the Yallahs Division of the St Thomas Municipal Corporation (STMC).

Robertson was responding to the news that the Supreme Court ruled this morning that current councillor for the division, the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) Dean Jones had disqualified himself on the grounds that, at the time of the November 2016 Local Government elections, he  was employed to the government.

Robertson, however, welcomed the decision by Chief Justice Bryan Sykes, that there was not enough evidence to determine that Jones was not a resident of the parish at the time of the election.

Sykes disqualified Jones as the sitting councillor for the Yallahs Division, but ruled that a by-election should be held soon to decide who should represent the division.

Robertson, in whose constituency Yallahs falls, said that he has discussed the matter already with JLP general secretary Dr Horace Chang and Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie.

“I expect that the Prime Minister will call a by-election in the division soon, and I can assure you that Jones (who is no longer employed by the government) will be the candidate,” Robertson told OBSERVER ONLINE.

The 10 seats in the STMC are equally divided between the ruling JLP and the opposition People's National Party (PNP). However, the JLP had the majority of the popular vote in the election and eventually elected the mayor.

The PNP's Constantine Bogle, who lost by 125 votes to Jones, brought the election petition against him seeking his disqualification for breaching the Local Government Act, on the basis that he was not a resident of the parish, which is a requirement to be elected as a Councillor, and that he was also employed by the government at the time. A number of discrepancies arose over whether Jones was employed to the government or had already tendered his resignation prior to being elected.

Balford Henry

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