Opposition trying to topple Government of Jamaica through courts - PM

Published: Wednesday | March 25, 2009

Daraine Luton, Staff Reporter

Peter Bunting, People's National Party general secretary, shakes the hand of Daryl Vaz (seated), during yesterday's sitting of Parliament, a day after Vaz won the West Portland seat in a by-election. Vaz was seated in the well of the Chamber as he is not permitted to sit with his colleagues until he is sworn in. - Rudolph Brown/Chief Photographer

A DAY after the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) balance in the House of Representatives was restored to 32-28, Prime Minister Bruce Golding has accused the Opposition of strategically attempting to use election petitions to topple his government.

"It is an issue that not only has been used to question the legitimacy of the Parliament, but I don't think I would be overstating it if I were to say it is a means that is being pursued as a basis for constitutionally overthrowing the elected Government of Jamaica," Golding said during yesterday's sitting of the House.

Majority under threat

The governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), which Golding leads, is under the knife with three of its MPs facing challenges to their qualification to sit in the House.

On Monday, the JLP's Daryl Vaz was forced to face the electorate of West Portland in a by-election after the court had earlier disqualified him from sitting in the House.

Vaz had pledged allegiance to a foreign power, having travelled and renewed a United States passport and was disqualified under Section 40 of the Constitution.

Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Golding said steps must now be taken to review the constitutional provision regarding qualification to sit in either House of Parliament.

Under the Constitution, persons who have sworn allegiance/obedience to a foreign power are not entitled to sit in the House or Senate.

Simpson miller hits back

Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller took offence to Golding's comment.

She declared that the PNP "will never take power in this country unless it is by the ballots".

Gregory Mair, in North East St Catherine; Michael Stern, in North West Clarendon; and Shahine Robinson, in North East St Ann, are all facing challenges to their qualification.

Leader of Opposition Business Derrick Kellier, like Simpson Miller, rejected the prime minister's assertion that the PNP was seeking to take power through the courts.

However, Golding countered, saying statements made by Abraham Dabdoub in court were clear.

Dabdoub, who had dragged Vaz to court, had called himself a guided missile. According to Golding, Dabdoub said the PNP was going to use the courts to take West Portland, then North East St Catherine, North West Clarendon and North East St Ann.