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Attorney General to provide ECJ with advice on Portmore boundaries court ruling

Published:Thursday | November 24, 2016 | 11:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Malahoo Forte

Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte is working feverishly to provide the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) with advice ahead of Monday's local government elections, particularly in relation to a Supreme Court ruling, which effectively reverses a decision to extend the boundaries in the Portmore municipality.

The ECJ said yesterday that it had examined the issues raised in the ruling of the court in the matter of Lennox Hines v the Ministry of Local Government, the Attorney General of Jamaica, and the ECJ.

According to the ECJ, it is "prepared to proceed with any of the possible scenarios which may arise" as it awaits the advice of the attorney general's office.

When The Gleaner contacted Malahoo Forte for a response, the attorney general said her department was "working on the matter as we speak".

Indicating that her response would come shortly, Malahoo Forte said her department was taking great care in dealing with the matter.

BOUNDARY UNCHANGED

Justice Martin Gayle on Monday handed down a judgment in favour of Lennox Hines, the Jamaica Labour Party candidate for the Southborough division who had challenged the former minister of local government Noel Arscott's decision to have sections of Spanish Town, St Catherine, included in Portmore.

The ruling means that electors in Lakes Pen, Quarrie Hill, Grange Lane, Clifton, and adjoining communities would be barred from voting for a mayor for Portmore in the November 28 local government polls.

According to the court's ruling, the Municipalities Act does not grant the minister any power to vary a boundary.

Meanwhile, Jamaica Labour Party mayoral candidate for the Portmore municipality Keith Blake welcomed the decision of the Appeals Court.

Speaking on Nationwide radio yesterday, Blake argued that the inclusion of the Spanish Town communities was undertaken by the then governing People's National Party (PNP) for political advantage in the Portmore mayoral race.

Fitz Jackson, campaign manager for the PNP's mayoral candidate, Leon Thomas, said the party was studying the court's ruling to decide on the next course of action.

He contended that the ruling would prevent residents of Portmore from receiving full representation from the Portmore municipality.

Jackson pointed out that the boundary changes were meant to align communities with the adjustments to the boundaries of the three constituencies in Portmore.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com