Fri | Dec 8, 2023

Time to resign?

Published:Wednesday | August 23, 2017 | 12:00 AM


Shortly after the 2016 general parliamentary election, there were reports that quite a few members of parliament (MPs) from the People's National Party (PNP) were willing to resign their seats prior to the expiration of the parliamentary term.

They were reluctant to do so, however, fearing Prime Minister Andrew Holness would likely delay holding by-elections in those constituencies so as to benefit from a bigger working majority in Parliament, where he currently has a majority of only one.

Two of those MPs, former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and Dr Omar Davies, have since gone on to resign their seats in the Parliament.

Prime Minister Holness reportedly gave Simpson Miller the assurance prior to her resignation that he would not unnecessarily delay the holding of a by-election in her former constituency, St Andrew South West.

Only recently, another vacancy was created in the Parliament consequent upon the untimely death of Dr Winston Green of St Mary South East.

Whereas St Andrew South West and St Andrew Southern, the constituency vacated by Dr Davies, are quite certain to be retained by the PNP, St Mary South East is expected to be a battleground.

In the 2016 general parliamentary election, the seat was initially called for the candidate of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), Dr Norman Dunn, only to be awarded to Dr Green with a majority of a mere five votes after a magisterial recount. An election petition was making its way through the courts when Dr Green died, so a by-election is now necessary.

The prime minister should, as a sign of a more enlightened and responsible leadership, set a date for simultaneously holding a set of by-elections to fill all the existing vacancies, however and by whomever occasioned.

For good measure, he could encourage the other PNP MPs who earlier desired to resign from the Parliament, if they are still so mindful, to consider doing so now, allowing him to facilitate the holding of by-elections to fill those vacancies at the same time the existing vacancies are being filled.

Perhaps some MPs from the governing JLP could also consider resigning now, allowing for the injection of, hopefully, new energies and better ideas into the Parliament to more meaningfully advance the governance process for the betterment of all.