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St Thomas mayor and deputy mayor elected from JLP after PNP boycott swearing-in ceremony

Published:Thursday | December 8, 2016 | 3:08 PM
Empty seats in the St Thomas Municipal Corporation as People’s National Party councillors boycott the swearing-in ceremony in Morant Bay.

Shanna Monteith, Gleaner Writer

Both the mayor and deputy mayor of Morant Bay, St Thomas were today elected from the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) despite the five-five tie between the parties for the municipal corporation.

At the installation ceremony, the Returning Officer for Western St Thomas stated that only a mayor would be elected in the absence of the People's National Party (PNP) councillors who were boycotting the sitting.

However, after taking his seat as mayor of Morant Bay and chairman of the local authority, Lenworth Rawle called for the nomination and further election of the councillor of the Port Morant Division, Michael Hue as his deputy.

Under convention, where there is a tie in a municipal corporation, the mayor should be selected from the party with the most overall votes in the parish and the deputy from the other party. The JLP had won the popular votes in the November 28 Local Government elections.

The PNP councillors had boycotted the function because they wanted it to be postponed pending the hearing of an election petition they filed seeking to bar the installation of the JLP councillor for the Yallahs Division Dean Jones.

The PNP says Jones should be disqualified because as a civil servant he cannot run to be a councillor.

Meanwhile, Rawle has refused to comment on why the decision was made to go ahead with the swearing-in ceremony without the PNP councillors.

The Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie has summoned the St Thomas JLP councillors to a meeting following the development. He is displeased that they went ahead with today's ceremony.