By-election scheduled following court ruling

KINGSTON, Jamaica: Another by-election will be held in Jamaica next month after a second parliamentarian was declared ineligible to keep his seat in a dual citizenship challenge.

The residents of the central constituency of North East St. Catherine will go to the polls on June 16.

On Friday, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday that ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) MP, Gregory Mair, would have to vacate his seat because he held Venezuela citizenship when he was nominated to run in the September 3, 2007 general elections.

The decision came after lawyers for Mair and People’s National Party (PNP) candidate Phyllis Mitchell, whom he defeated in the polls, made a joint submission before Justice Horace Marsh.

Mair has since renounced his Venezuela citizenship and said he is expecting victory in the upcoming by-election.

“I’m extremely confident because of the work I have done in the constituency,” he said after the court proceedings.

Nomination Day for the by-election is May 29.

On March 23 of this year, voters in the West Portland constituency went back to the polls after the Supreme Court ruled in a similar case, that JLP MP, Daryl Vaz, was ineligible for election because he held United States citizenship at the time of his nomination. Vaz emerged victorious by defeating Kenneth Rowe, not Abe Dabdoub as was earlier reported. It was Dabdoub who had mounted the challenge against Vaz’s eligibility.

Two other dual citizenship challenges brought by PNP losing candidates in North West Clarendon and North East St. Ann are yet to be heard by the Supreme Court.

The JLP has a 32-28 majority in Parliament and success by the PNP in the by-elections could force Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, to call early elections.

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