JO - Remove that archaic provision
Remove that archaic provision
Sunday, May 11, 2008
After almost 11 years on the job, Mr Danville Walker has resigned as director of elections, following the issue of American citizenship.
Pursuant to sub item 2(f) of the Schedule to the Representation of the People (Interim Electoral Reform) Act of 1979, no members of the Electoral Commission, including the director, shall be eligible to serve as a member if he "is, by virtue of his own act, under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign state or power". This provision essentially mirrors that of the eligibility of parliamentarians.
Section 12 of the said Act provides that the director of elections, as all other major functionaries of the Electoral Office, shall, while so serving, be disqualified from voting in any election in Jamaica, whether at the parliamentary or parish council level. Understandably, this provision seeks to ensure the impartiality of the electoral office in managing the country's elections.
Inasmuch as there is this need for impartiality, and given the historic political landscape of Jamaica, it would appear sensible that the director of elections need not be a Jamaican. For, having a foreigner in place, we could almost guarantee that such a person would be able to execute the functions of the office or manage our elections without any bias in favour or against either of our major political parties.
If anything, I believe our national security interests are more likely to be compromised by having foreign members in the constabulary force than having a neutral person serving as director of elections.
The anachronistic provision in the Representation of the People (Interim Electoral Reform) Act of 1979 should be removed.
Kevin KO Sangster
New Jersey, USA