Categorized | National News

Mitchell Presents At OAS Meeting Today – Bahamas Will Make Commitment

Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell is in Washington, D.C. today, presenting the government’s formal response to the Organisation of American States’ (OAS) report on the country’s recent elections by its special observer mission.

The OAS Permanent Council will convene at the OAS headquarters at 10:00 a.m. to discuss the report on The Bahamas.

The OAS report on the May 7th General Election, which was tabled in the House of Assembly last week, outlined a number of recommendations and criticisms including an independent boundaries commission and campaign financing legislation.

The OAS said the absence of regulation has the potential to impact the accountability, transparency and equity of the democratic process.

“We are going to make a formal response on the report because there has been a change in administrations and so we felt we needed to put our own face on this and that’s the reason I’m attending the meeting,” Mr. Mitchell told reporters before leaving for Washington yesterday.

The most noteworthy observation by the report, he said, was the fact that there were 18,574 more women registered to vote in the last general election than men – approximately 10 per cent of the electorate.

“Two things arise out of that fact and one of them is that the report indicates that that participation by women, even though significantly higher statistically than the participation by men, did not translate into a great number of women making it into public office as a result of the elections.”

Only five women made it into the House of Assembly, which Mr. Mitchell said, only represents about 14 per cent of the total number in the House of Assembly although women make up more than 50 per cent of the population.

“We will make a public commitment on improving the participation of women in public office. At the same time, we will try to discover why men are not registering to vote and whether this is part of a trend, which the report indicates is consistent with what is happening throughout the region,” he said.

Mr. Mitchell continued, “We have also indicated that we will amend the constitution with regard to discrimination against women which will allow, if the public agrees, the spouses of Bahamian women to have parody with the spouses of Bahamian men under the constitution.”

The government also proposed adding in the definition of discrimination in the constitution and the word “gender,” which does not now appear.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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