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reforms - Elections free, fair, but too much violence,
many as 20 polling stations clustered in one small area. "This
led to congestion and, frankly, at times there was chaos"
Robert Hart, Staff Reporter
UNITED States-based Carter Center has made 15 recommendations
for reforms to the Jamaican electoral system which it said
would enhance the quality of local polls.
a report released yesterday on its observation of last year's
general election, the international body revealed that, despite
advances in the organisation and administration of the October
2002 vote, there was room for improvement.
immediate increase in the number of constituencies to prevent
a tie similar to what occurred in Trinidad and Tobago last
October is among the recommendations put on the table for
consideration. Here, this has gained added significance, with
the closeness of Jamaica's last election which saw the People's
National Party winning 34 of the 60 seats and the Jamaica
Labour Party the remaining 26.
re-engineering of voting stations, an assault on conflict
and intimidation during the election period, and the institution
of national dialogue "to address the larger issues of
violence, disarmament, the 'garrison' effect, and the ultimate
impact of the winner-take-all system," were also recommended.
Carter Center, in the spirit of international co-operation
and assistance, offers our own suggestions for further improving
the procedures and reducing the incidents of conflict, thus
raising the likelihood of an even higher degree of public
participation and confidence in the electoral process,"
it said in its report.
the well-respected international body recommended that Political
Ombudsman Bishop Herro Blair be given powers to apply sanctions
to those found in breach of the Political Code of Conduct.
An amendment to the Ombudsman Act would be
Carter Center, which has been sending observers to Jamaica
since the 1997 General Elections, also suggested the simplification
and amending of voting procedures, better training for election
day workers, the reassessment of the role of outdoor agents,
as well as the expansion of the role of Citizens Action for
Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE), "to include other areas
report was released prior to yesterday's symposium titled:
"Elections in Jamaica: The Next Step to Democracy,"
at the Hilton Kingston Hotel, New Kingston. The symposium,
jointly sponsored by the Carter Center and the Department
of Government at the University of the West Indies (UWI),
Mona, featured presentations from members of the Carter Center
and responses from, among others, the Electoral Office of
Jamaica (EOJ), the Electoral Advisory Committee (EAC) and
the Political Ombudsman.
Carter Center found the 2002 Jamaican Elections to be exemplary
in its organisation and preparation and to reflect adequately
the will of the voters," said Laura Neuman, Senior Programme
Associate at the Carter Center. She added, however, that "we
remain concerned over the violence during the campaign period
and the voter intimidation that persisted in the elections".