KINGSTON: A former junior minister in the Portia Simpson-Miller led administration who resigned over one month ago due to public pressure was reinstated last week.
Richard Azan will return as the junior minister in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing following a swearing in ceremony at King’s House, the official residence of the Governor General.
Azan’s reinstatement follows a September 26 ruling by Paula Llewellyn, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), that no criminal charges be laid against him in the Spalding Market issue.
In a ruling issued nearly one week after Azan resigned from the post, the DPP said that after analyzing all the material provided, she did not see any basis for charges.
The shops at the Spaulding Market in the central parish of Clarendon were built without the requisite approvals and planning permission of Clarendon Parish Council, which owns the land, and without adhering to the process required for government contracts.
Azan, who is the parliamentary representative for the North West Clarendon constituency, was referred by the Contractor General to the Director of Public Prosecutions for possible prosecution as a result of his role in the matter.
Contractor General Dirk Harrison has said in a report that Azan played a key role in the decision to construct the shops.
With Azan’s reinstatement, Luther Buchanan, who was assigned to replace Azan, will return to his previous post as junior minister in the Office of the Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, the opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) said it may be premature to reappoint Azan given the controversy which surrounded the Spalding Market affair.
“He was cleared of all illegal activities and therefore is obviously cleared to assume any position in government,” said Dr. Horace Chang, JLP General Secretary. “But political leadership and representation ought to be governed by a higher standard, and it would be a bit early to be restored to his substantive post given all the controversy and the issue raised even though they were below the bar of public prosecution.”