Legal protection for MPs with dual citizenship

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Monday December 20, 2010 – The Bruce Golding Cabinet has given instructions for the drafting of legislation to secure the salaries and validate the acts performed by four members of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), who were disqualified from Parliament for having dual citizenship.

The legislation, if approved by Parliament, would authenticate acts performed in good faith, in respect of ministerial and legislative duties by Gregory Mair, Michael Stern, Daryl Vaz and former MP Shahine Robinson. 

If Parliament turns down the law, the four could be forced to pay back all salaries earned while they sat in Parliament for the contested period. Additionally, laws passed by the members and decisions made, based on the public offices they occupied, could be challenged.

Mair, Stern and Vaz were returned to Parliament after renouncing their US citizenship and winning by-elections ordered by the court, while Robinson will be trying to regain her North East St Ann seat in today’s by-election.

She will be challenged by political newcomer and veteran journalist, Devon Evans, of the Marcus Garvey People’s Political Party. The opposition People’s National Party (PNP), whose candidate Manley Bowen took the dual citizenship case to the court in the first place, is not contesting the by-election.

Director of Elections Orett Fisher has indicated that all is in place for today’s voting. Based on the May 2010 voters list being used, 39,715 people are eligible to cast their ballots. 

“We are set and we are ready,” he said, ahead of the voting which began at 7 am and will continue until 5 pm. 

Fisher said the winner could be announced as early as two hours after the close of the polls.

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