COMMENTARY: Getting It Right & Preserving Our Democracy Is Important

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room
Audley Phillip

Getting It Right & Preserving Our Democracy Is Important

By Audley Phillip

It would be remiss of me if I didn’t comment on key aspects of the Commonwealth Observer Interim report which they completed and handed over to the Government at the end of the last General Elections.

Election observation is a valuable tool for improving the quality of elections.  Observers help to build public confidence in the honesty of the electoral process.

It is not just a one day task and the quality of the electoral process has to be continuously reassessed  and improved.

I think that it is counter productive to continue to invite observers if we continue to ignore their salient  recommendations for upgrading and improving the process.

I hope that everyone would take the time to read their thought provoking recommendations as they can only help strengthen our electoral process and by virtue our democracy.

Here are their recommendations word for word:

RECOMMENDATIONS

However, certain key elements of internationally recommended standards must be looked into and I will only focus on three in this preliminary statement:

Strong Institutions:

For democracy to thrive and be fully functional, there needs to be a clear separation of powers. With the evolution of democracy in Antigua and Barbuda, emphasis now needs to be put on good governance based on the framework of independence, transparency, oversight and accountability.

The Media

There is a need to de-politicize the media landscape. It must be free, fair and inclusive. There is an urgent requirement to strengthen the regulatory framework. It is not proper to give unrestricted access to the government, while limiting the access to other parties.

Transparency; The Representation of The People (Amendment) Act

Appropriate steps must be taken to ensure accuracy and transparency as it pertains to:

– Timely publication and updating of the voter’s list;

– Balancing the protection of voters’ data with the right of the public and all parties to access and challenge the voter’s list;

– The efficiency of the tallying process by counting ballots at the polling stations;

Now you judge for yourself where we are. We still have a long road to travel in order to get it right.

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