Elections body secretariat will be made permanent

Stabroek News
May 15, 2000

Following the amendment of the constitution to make the Carter Center-model Elections Commission a permanent feature, the government is to bring legislation to make the secretariat of the Commission a permanent body.

It intends to do so by repealing Section 15 of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act 1996 and re-enacting a new section 15. The draft bill provides for "a permanent secretariat to the Elections Commission to ensure institutional memory and capacity" and makes the Commission responsible for its efficient functioning.

It also provides for the Commission to be responsible for appointing the staff of the secretariat to the various positions on such terms and conditions as it determines to be necessary for the discharge of its functions under the constitution and any written law.

The draft also provides for the staff of the secretariat to be recruited from persons holding or having held appointments in the public service or such persons considered fit and proper to be appointed to positions in the secretariat. However, for appointing persons holding appointments in the public service the consent of the Public Service Commission is necessary.

There has been criticism of the proposed bill on the grounds that there was no need to describe the secretariat as permanent as this could have been reasonably inferred by the omission of any reference to it being temporary.

The legislation was one of the drafts considered and approved by the Oversight Committee on constitutional reform. The United Force parliamentarian and leader, Manzoor Nadir is unhappy with the bill particularly in the light of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which is to be signed by the government, the donor community and the Elections Commission.

The MOU sets out the organisation of the secretariat and the salary attached to each post which Nadir feels is an imposition on the Commission.