THE governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) yesterday publicised documents that they say prove that opposition member of parliament Ian Hayles was a citizen of the United States when he was nominated for and contested the September 2007 general election.
At a press conference at the JLP's headquarters in Kingston, general secretary Aundre Franklin called on Hayles to immediately resign from Parliament or, if he refuses, for opposition leader and president of the People's National Party (PNP) Portia Simpson Miller to instruct him to do so.
"Why continue to waste taxpayers' money and carry our courts through a system when the information is now public that on nomination day you were a US citizen?" Franklin questioned.
The documents presented by the JLP included an 'Oath of renunciation of the nationality of the United States' signed by Hayles on October 23, 2007; the cancellation of Hayles' US passport on the same date; and a certificate of loss of US nationality, dated October 25, 2007 and approved by the US State Department on November 26, 2007.
Franklin said the documents were obtained through court action by lawyers for the JLP.
The papers also show that Hayles wrote to the US Embassy on August 5, 2007 requesting that his US citizenship be revoked. That letter was copied to persons including Simpson Miller and then PNP general secretary Dr Paul Robertson.
The documents also showed Hayles wrote to Simpson Miller in August 2007 stating he was no longer a US citizen.
However, yesterday Franklin said that "that was not necessarily so".
"There is a clear breach of the Constitution here and the leader of the opposition should, if Hayles doesn't do it himself, instruct Hayles to do the honourable thing and step down from Parliament and ensure that the people of Hanover are given the opportunity to either select him again or select another candidate," Franklin said after the press conference.
Under the Constitution, people who hold citizenship in non-Commonwealth countries are not qualified to sit in Gordon House.
The PNP has challenged the eligibility of five government MPs through the courts since the JLP took office in 2007, resulting in them revoking citizenship of other countries -- four US and one Venezuela. All five have been re-elected in by-elections.
Asked whether it was possible that Hayles did not disclose to his party president that he gave up his US citizenship after the election, Franklin said Simpson Miller has some explaining to do.
"If he were to hide this from his party, the onus is on the president of the party to say to Mr Hayles 'on what grounds did you write telling me you had renounced (US citizenship) on August 5 when your certificate says October 25'," said Franklin.
The JLP also rejected the view that it was hypocritical to bring up the matter of Hayles' US citizenship when so many of its members had dual citizenship when elected.
"The People's National Party is the most hypocritical party on the planet. They have not even admitted that they have dual citizens. What is their excuse? We have a clean slate now, we have no more dual citizens," Franklin said.
Last, in response to the JLP's accusations, the PNP issued a statement in which it said it was clarifying the sequence of events with respect to Hayles' renunciation of allegiance to the US.
"Mr Hayles, by letter dated August 5, 2007 faxed to the United States of America Embassy, two days before Nomination Day, the 7 August 2007, clearly renounced his allegiance to that country. The letter was copied to PNP President Portia Simpson Miller and national campaign director Dr Paul Robertson," the PNP said.
"Following a telephone call from the Embassy, Mr Hayles attended at the Embassy on August 6, 2007 where a letter was prepared and signed by him renouncing his allegiance to the USA in the presence of an Embassy official," the party added.
Last night, when the Observer brought to the party's attention that August 6 was a public holiday, PNP chairman Robert Pickersgill checked with Hayles whom he said insisted that he went to the US Embassy that day.
In its statement yesterday, the PNP said that "Hayles was subsequently requested by United States Embassy officials to renounce his US nationality. This he did and was later issued a Certificate of Loss of US Nationality".
"These documents are all contained in the affidavit filed by Mr Hayles' attorneys in the Supreme Court in January this year. It is dishonest of the JLP to select just one of the documents on which to base its call for Mr Hayles' resignation," the PNP said, adding that the matter is still to be tried by the Court and is therefore sub judice.
"The JLP should restrain itself from pre-empting the judge's decision or seeking through press conferences to influence the Court's decision," the PNP said.