Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Holness assures Portia of early by-election, silent on others

Published:Friday | March 24, 2017 | 3:00 AMJovan Johnson
Opposition Leader Portia Simspon Miller waves to supporters on her arrival at Gordon House last Thursday to deliver her final presentation to Budget Debates in Jamaica. She will demit office on April 2.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness
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If Portia Simpson Miller resigns as member of parliament, she's been guaranteed by Prime Minister Andrew Holness that a by-election in her St Andrew South Western constituency would be held immediately, although no such courtesies are being extended other MPs who may wish to resign.

Simpson Miller will step down as president of the People's National Party (PNP) on Sunday, and a week later, on April 2, as Leader of the Opposition.

There has been speculation in some quarters that some MPs who might want to leave Gordon House before their five-year term ends in 2021, are concerned that the prime minister may not call a by-election soon enough and subsequently give the Government an increased majority in the House of Representatives.

Asked on Wednesday how long he would be prepared to wait to call a by-election if an MP resigns, Holness restricted his answer to Simpson Miller.

 

FIXED ELECTION DATE

 

"We are still designing the fixed election date legislation, which would automatically also address the timing of calling by-election. we haven't finalised the conceptualisation. We're looking at what the British system has down. Outside of that, I have indicated to the Leader of the Opposition specifically, that I don't believe, in her case, that it would be appropriate not to call a by-election as soon as is practicable. That should be fairly immediate," he said at a press briefing he hosted.

That practicability, he said, meant that the Electoral Office of Jamaica would be in a state of readiness to conduct the elections.

Outside of St Andrew Southern representative Dr Omar Davies, who has indicated he won't seek re-election, no other MP has given the slightest public indication that they want to leave.

Davies has already given up the PNP chairmanship of his constituency. Senator Mark Golding is expected to replace him as the party's candidate when he leaves.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com