Commission presents report and recommendations on electoral reform


31-July-2013

This was done at the National House yesterday afternoon in the presence of the media and representatives of political parties, just after a copy of the document was presented to Vice-President Danny Faure at State House.

Vice-President Faure was representing President James Michel who is currently out of the country.
The report and recommendations follow two years of deliberations by the Forum of Electoral Reform composed of members of the Electoral Commission, political party representatives, the civil society represented by the Citizens’ Democracy Watch and a representative from the Attorney General.

This came after the Electoral Commission was mandated by government in July 2011 to enshrine acceptable modern democratic laws in the electoral laws of Seychelles.

The Electoral Commission has also benefitted from public consultations as well as help from the Commonwealth and has relied on international good practices and conventions and treaties on individual and political rights in order to come out with the final recommendations.

Electoral Commission chairperson Hendrick Gappy said that among other recommendations the most important ones cover three main components: The Elections Act, Campaign and Financing Act, and the Party Registration Act.

Under the Elections Act, it is being proposed that a voters’ census be carried out in order to update the present voters’ list which the Electoral Commission feels lacks credibility.
The commission is also in favour of a continuous voters’ registration system whereby the register remains open all year round for consultation and registration and changes to it can be made at any time.

The three-day ‘cooling off period’ prior to elections has also been reviewed. As no reference to it appears in the Constitution, it is proposed that it will no longer be referred to as such. In its place, the Electoral Commission is proposing that campaigning activities, such as door to door visits, can be done within 24 hours before the elections. However, aggressive campaigning in the form of motorcades, public meetings, parties, and political broadcasts will not be permitted during that period.

The issue of assisted voting has also been addressed and it is now proposed that a voter who needs help in order to cast his/her vote be accompanied in the voters’ booth by two electoral officers instead of a relative, friend or party representative as it has been customary up to now.

A major change proposed under this act is that in case the president dies or resigns, fresh elections must be organised within a 90-day period. This differs to present provisions whereby the president can transfer power to the vice-president.

In the spirit of transparency, changes in the Party Registration Act call for disclosure and publication of all financing and donations in favour of political parties. The amendments propose a limit on financing but at the same time provide for the creation of a Political Parties Financial Support Fund to finance the day-to-day running of all registered political parties.

The report and recommendations on electoral reform in Seychelles adds to recommendations on the revision of the Public Order Act which the Electoral Commission presented to government in September 2012.

According to the Commission, the government had wished to study the full set of recommendations as one document before sending them to the Attorney General’s office for drafting of appropriate bill prior to approval by the National Assembly.

The Electoral Commission has expressed the wish to see the process through and the recommendations transformed into law as soon as possible so that it can implement the changes in time for the next elections due in 2016.

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