Saturday, December 13, 2008

Awaiting Judgement

The arguments are in; they now await judgement of the Court of Appeal - the final arbiter in matters involving the Election Petition Act.

The judgement of the Court of Appeal will be decisive as it will affect the fate of a number of the sitting members of the House of Representatives as well as those appointed to the Senate. The most profound effect could be the calling of a series of by-elections or a general election - depending on the ruling of the court.

The judgement is expected in early 2009 - in excess of 1 1/2 years since the new Parliament was convened. That cannot be a satisfactory situation where the very composition of the said Parliament is being questioned. The matters in issue involve the interpretation of provisions of the Constitution of Jamaica - ostensibly the supreme court of the land. Dependent on the nature of the ruling, it could be inferred that there has been either a conspiracy to subvert the constitution or a sacrifice of the constitution on the altar of political expediency.

The Context

After the Chief Justice handed down her findings a number of events were set in motion. Dabdoub announced that he intended to appeal the aspect of the judgement which declared that a by-election should be held instead of him being awarded the seat. Vaz initially had no problems with the Chief Justice's ruling, declared his intention to renounce his US citizenship and called for the said by-election to be held at the earliest possible date.

Then things got a bit complicated.Vaz announced his intention to file an appeal against the finding of the Chief Justice that his dual citizenship had disqualified him from being duly nominated. This was done as a so called "strategic move" - ostensibly to ensure that he remained in Parliament until the appeal was decided. Vaz subsequently renounced his US citizenship, issued repeated calls for Dabdoub to withdraw his appeal and proceed forthwith to the by-election.

Dabdoub stood firm, working the image of the protector/guardian of the Constitution of Jamaica to counter the political propaganda that he could only win the seat by court action not by an election.

The political situation became even more complex as the opposition People's National Party launched a number of legal challenges (seemingly spearheaded by Dabdoub himself) on a number of Government members centred around their alleged dual citizenship.

Enter Prime Minister Bruce Golding. His stance is that he would not allow anyone to sit in Parliament who was not elected by the people- ie. who gained the seat as a result of court adjudication.

The Submissions

The submissions of Dabdoub and Vaz are public documents; however the matters are under consideration by a court of law and as such the sub judice rule applies. In the interest of public awareness - especially those with vested interest - we intend to facilitate widespread access to those submissions. We do so without any comment on the merits of the cases.

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