|Bahamas recommits to deepening democracy, Mitchell tells OAS|
|Thursday, 02 August 2012 07:14|
NASSAU, The Bahamas – Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration the Hon. Fred Mitchell addressed the Regular Session of the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States with the country’s response to a report by OAS electoral observer teams during the May 7, 2012 General Election.
“We believe that such a considered response is necessary having regard to this being the first time such a mission was invited to our country and having regard to the fact that the general election resulted in change of administration,” Mr. Mitchell said to the OAS on August 1, 2012.
“We come here to recommit our country to deepening democracy within our borders, a process that has been ongoing since 1729 when the first Parliament was established in Nassau.”
The report, which was accepted by The Bahamas Government “without reservation’s will be utilised by the government to plot the process of continued reform of the electoral process, he said.
However, he made several observations in response to the report. Firstly, The Bahamas believe that the report did not sufficiently address the issue brought to the attention of the monitors of the use of the power and resources of the government and the state to influence the outcome of the election. This, he added, will be addressed in The Bahamas Parliament.Secondly, The Bahamas took note of the observations about the participation of women in the process. The report indicates that there were 18,574 more women than men who registered to vote. Some 10 percent more than men.
The report also states that this is consistent with regional trends and it regrets that this has not translated into more women as candidates and Members of Parliament. This statistic is important for many reasons, Mr. Mitchell said, adding that policy makers take note first of the importance of women in the process and the need for policies to reflect the gender balance in the electorate.
“It also takes note of the need to improve the level of participation of women as candidates and as Members of Parliament.
“The Government pledges to raise the level of participation of women as candidates and as Members of Parliament. A programme of public education on this issue will follow,” he said.
Mr. Mitchell also informed the OAS of the Government’s plans to amend the Constitution to eliminate all the remaining forms of discrimination based on gender, which will allow the spouses of Bahamian women the same access to the rights of citizenship as the spouses of men now enjoy, and to also pass their citizenship to their children. The report also indicates that there are four women elected to the House of Assembly, when in fact there were five. The Government has also sought by appointing to the Senate, more women to participate in front line politics.
“It is only left for me to thank the observes for their work in our country as the inaugural team of the OAS observers. We believe that the process was useful for the country and trust that the process of reform will find favour with future observers who come to our country,” Mr. Mitchell said.
Mr. Mitchell was accompanied by His Excellency C A Smith, Bahamas Ambassador to Washington D.C and Permanent Representative the Organisation of American States. He returns to Nassau on Friday, August 3, 2012.
The Permanent Council of the OAS reports to the General Assembly and carries out those decisions of the General Assembly or of the Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs. The council keeps vigilance over the maintenance of friendly relations among member states.
The OAS is the world’s oldest regional organisation, which came into being in 1948 with the signing in Bogota, Colombia of the Charter of the OAS, which entered into force in December 1951. The OAS was established to achieve among its member states an order of peace and justice and to promote their solidarity, defend sovereignty, integrity and independence. The Bahamas is among the 35-member states.
Photo 1: Assistant Secretary General meets with Bahamas officials at the Regular Session of the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, August 1, 2012. Pictured from left are Albert R. Ramdin, OAS Secretary General; the Hon Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration and His Excellency C A Smith, Bahamas Ambassador to Washington and Permanent Representative to the OAS. (Photo/Juan Manuel Herrera/OAS)
Photo 2: The Hon Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration addressing the Regular Session of the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, August 1, 2012. (Photo/Juan Manuel Herrera/OAS)
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