JLP councillors acted according to law – constitutional expert
Constitutional lawyer Dr Lloyd Barnett has stated that the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) councillors in the St Thomas Municipal Corporation did not act unlawfully when they appointed one of their colleagues as deputy mayor.
Based on convention, where there is a tie, as in the case of St Thomas the mayor should have been elected from the JLP since it had the most votes overall in the parish.
The deputy mayor should have been selected from the People's National Party.
But with the PNP councillors boycotting yesterday's sitting the Labourites went ahead and elected a JLP councillor as deputy.
Barnett says he doubts the councillors' decision can be easily reversed as they had the quorum or the right number of persons required to elect the deputy mayor.
He says they also followed the proper sequence to elect the deputy mayor.
Local government minister Desmond McKenzie has summoned the JLP councillors in the St Thomas Municipal Corporation to a meeting today and promised that their action would be fully reviewed.
However, Barnett says the convention cannot override the law.
Barnett also says he is not sure if the PNP and JLP can vote to remove the JLP deputy mayor as the law does not provide for mayors and their deputies to be removed by a vote.
Yesterday, the five PNP councillors boycotted the swearing-in ceremony because they claimed that JLP councillor for the Yallahs Division Dean Jones is unfit to sit in the local authority since he does not live in the parish.
Immediately after mayor of Morant Bay, Lenworth Rawle was sworn in, his JLP colleague nominated and elected councillor Michael Hue to be deputy mayor.