KINGSTON — Member of Parliament (MP) for South Central St. Catherine, Sharon Hay-Webster, has switched from the Opposition to the Government benches in Parliament.
She has also informed the Lower House that she has renounced her United States of America (USA) citizenship.
Mrs. Hay-Webster crossed the floor during Tuesday’s (November 1) sitting of the House of Representatives, which is temporarily accommodated at the Jamaica Conference Center, downtown Kingston, while repairs are carried out to nearby Gordon House.
"For the record, let me say I was born in the United States in September, 1961. However I chose to be a citizen of Jamaica, having lived here since January of 1962. My unique case, however, remains in the courts," Mrs. Haye Webster pointed out.
She also indicated that she expected her dual citizenship case to be a test of the right of Jamaicans in a similar position to serve in the country’s Parliament.
"There are many persons in a similar position in the non-Commonwealth Diaspora who would like to serve Jamaica, and who await the outcome of the Court ruling on this matter, and I am committed to making sure that this matter is taken through the court system so that we can have a resolution on this,” she stated.
Mrs. Hay-Webster also commented that, though her political journey has undoubtedly had its high and low points, her decision to join the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) was an "easy one."
"The level of maturity displayed by the party in its approach to governance, inclusiveness and its declared position of a new politics, I find commendable and attractive,” she said.
The Member of Parliament for South Central St. Catherine formally submitted an application to become a member of the JLP on Monday (October 31). In the meantime, she has indicated that she will resign her seat as a Member of Parliament.
She also stated that she is looking forward to being a part of a “new and exciting journey of service and transformational politics."
MP for South Central St. Catherine since 1997, as a member of the opposition People's National Party (PNP), Mrs. Hay Webster came to international attention after the 2004 Haitian rebellion, when she escorted deposed President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, from his temporary exile in the Central African Republic to Jamaica, at the invitation of then Prime Minister of Jamaica, Most Hon P. J. Patterson.
Mrs. Hay-Webster's third term in Parliament was marred by controversy over her citizenship in the United States, leading her to announce in 2009 that she would renounce her U.S. citizenship. However, in 2011 it came to light through the WikiLeaks United States diplomatic cables leak that she had withdrawn her application for renunciation, meaning she remained a U.S. citizen. As the ongoing controversy heated up, Hay-Webster resigned from the PNP, and her former party called for her to step down from her parliamentary seat as well.
Her resignation from the PNP made her only the third independent politician in 19 years to sit in the Jamaican Parliament.
The South Central St. Catherine Member of Parliament took her seat in Parliament on July 12, 2011 as an Independent Member of Parliament after resigning as a member of the PNP on June 28.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter