Norman Horne, a member of the opposition People’s National Party (PNP), has announced that he will forego the opportunity to be appointed to the Senate on the recommendation of Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips.
In September Mr Horne was named with seven other persons by Dr Phillips to be appointed to sit in the Opposition benches in the Upper House, but he had not yet been appointed.
He explained in a statement on Saturday evening that he had been traveling overseas at the time of the appointment of his opposition colleagues, and since his return, has been in quarantine.
As a result, his “swearing-in” had been rescheduled for October 16.
But, in his surprising statement on Saturday, Mr Horne said he would decline the opportunity, after all.
His rationale for making this decision, he said, was that he believed the next Leader of the Opposition should have the opportunity to name a new slate of senators, after that person is elected President of the PNP on November 7.
It’s part of Jamaica’s democratic tradition that the head of the two parliamentary parties are appointed Prime Minister and Opposition Leader as long as those persons have a seat in the House of Representatives.
After the September 3 general election, Dr Phillips, reappointed Opposition Leader, went ahead and recommended to the Governor-General the eight persons, including Mr Horne, to be appointed opposition senators.
Mark Golding, who is now a candidate for the PNP presidency, had criticized Dr Phillips for doing so, arguing that the appointment of the new opposition senators should have been left to his successor.
The Constituency of Jamaica does not provide for the resignation of senators in such circumstances, but Mr Horne, in his statement on Saturday, asserted that it would be in keeping with the spirit of the constitution to do so.
He said “where an Opposition Leader resigns, and another is elected, I believe that the new Leader should be free to exercise his or her Constitutional right in executing the mandate as the Leader of the Opposition.”
Accordingly, he said, were he to go ahead and accept appointment to the Senate on October 16, he would feel obliged to resign on November 6, ahead of the PNPs presidential election the following day, “to allow the new Leader (President) of the People’s National Party to appoint Senators of his or her choice.
“I will therefore be communicating to the Governor-General and the Leader of the Opposition my desire not to be sworn in at this time, mere weeks from November 6 2020,” he said.