In the aftermath of the controversy where two members of the Senate were removed and subsequently returned, the leader of the main opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), Andrew Holness, has held charge following a move to oust him from office. Holness received 13 of the 20 votes cast in a secret ballot on Monday.
“He has been reaffirmed as leader of the opposition, it was a very good meeting and I’m very convinced that based on what we picked up at the meeting, we are in good stead and we will be moving together as one in the future and we expect great things,” Leader of Opposition Business in the Lower House, Derrick Smith said.
The meeting held on Monday was called to discuss Holness’ stewardship of the 72-year-old party following a recent Senate controversy in which the Constitutional Court ruled that his request for use of undated pre-signed resignation letters to oust Arthur Williams and Dr. Christopher Tufton from the Upper House in 2013, was unconstitutional null and void. While Holness appealed the ruling, the Appeals Court upheld the ruling by the Constitutional Court. In the Appeals Court, the procedure used by Williams to initiate the court action against the opposition leader was also deemed as wrong by lawyers for Holness. The Attorney General’s department, which also stood as one of the respondents in the appeal, said that it was surprised that an argument about procedure was being used. Initially, Holness had said that the Constitutional Court had erred on matters of law and fact.
According to media report, among those voting against Holness were Daryl Vaz, James Robertson, Delroy Chuck, Marissa Dalrymple-Phillibert, Gregory Mair and Audley Shaw. When journalists questioned them to confirm whether or not they voted in favour of Holness, they refused to provide an answer.
Last week, Chuck, who was the spokesman on justice and legal affairs, resigned as a member of the Holness-led shadow cabinet, saying that ruling by the Court of Appeal had harmed Holness’ reputation and that of JLP. He also urged Holness to consider resigning his post.