Two-term bill sent to House
Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
The Government has tabled a bill in the House of Representatives which aims to amend the Constitution to allow for the imposition of term limits on the office of the prime minister.
The bill, tabled yesterday, pro-poses that no person who has served more than nine years, consecutive or not, can be eligible to be appointed prime minister.
It also proposes that an incumbent prime minister "shall not be required to vacate his office by reason only of the fact that after his appointment he exceeds the nine-year limit".
In the memorandum of objects and reasons which append the bill, Justice Minister Dorothy Lightbourne said the constitutional review was "desirable in order to strengthen democracy by encouraging the infusion of new leadership at the highest level of government".
Could be hard to sell
The parliamentary Opposition has signalled that it would follow the wishes of Jamaicans on the issue.
"This is a matter that not only the Opposition but the entire public should be canvassed," People's National Party (PNP) legal adviser A.J. Nicholson told The Gleaner yesterday.
He said a joint select committee of parliament could benefit from the views of all sectors of the society.
Nicholson also suggested that the bill could be a hard sell, noting that term limits were rare in the Commonwealth, where the West-minster model of government is practised.
"It would be the duty of the Government to convince the public as to the necessity of this step being taken, and what is the malady that it is intended to cure," Nicholson said.
Lightbourne pointed to Commonwealth countries such as Dominica, Nigeria and South Africa which have imposed term limits on the Office of the Prime Minister.
Golding's Jamaica Labour Party had committed, in its 2007 election manifesto, to impose term limits on the office of the prime minister. His party also promised to institute legislation to create a fixed election date to prevent prime ministers from calling a poll whenever they feel.