No contest - Supreme Court orders by-election, Pnp opts out of September 4 polls

Published: Thursday | August 13, 2009



Ousted Jamaica Labour Party Member of Parliament Michael Stern is carried by supporters outside the Supreme Court, downtown Kingston, after the court's ruling that a by-election must be held in the North West Clarendon constituency. - Ian Allen/Staff Photographer

AFTER TWO defeats in by-elections following the disqualification of Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) members of parliament, the Opposition People's National Party has decided to avoid heading to the polls again.

The PNP yesterday said it would not contest the September 4 by-election in North West Clarendon announced by Prime Minister Bruce Golding.

"We had done our canvass. We know exactly where we stand, but we all sat and did our canvass and assessed the entire thing as they were preparing for a 'buy' election, and that is why we took the decision not to contest the election," Richard Azan, the PNP's caretaker for the constituency, told The Gleaner.

Earlier, Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Hibbert dismissed an application from Azan for him to be handed the seat.

Abe Dabdoub, the attorney representing Azan, had signalled to the court that he had instructions to appeal the ruling. He sought a 42-day stay of execution which was denied.

Well after midday yesterday, Dabdoub told The Gleaner that he was making preparations for the appeal.

However, late in the evening Azan said all plans were shelved. "The country is going through too much difficulties now so I think we need to settle and do some other things now," Azan said.

Yesterday, a release from the PNP read: "Our intention has always been that the integrity of the membership of the Parliament should be beyond question. We feel confident that the point has been well and truly made and that our actions have been vindicated."

Azan insisted that the PNP backing away from the polls "has nothing to do with us being unable to win the elections".

"We were in poll position but they were preparing for a 'buy' election and the constituency executive and the leadership took the decision not to contest," Azan said.

The PNP suffered heavy defeats in West Portland and North East St Catherine after the ousted JLP MPs renounced foreign citizenship and returned to face the voters.

Michael Stern, the JLP caretaker for North West Clarendon, had said he would give Azan a "resounding beating at the polls".