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Debate on legislation to limit the time period during which a person may serve as prime minister has been suspended to allow for further consultations.
Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, brought the Constitution (Amendment) (No.2) Act 2010 to the House of Representatives yesterday (Dec. 7), which proposes a nine-year term limit for the office of prime minister.
He said the move is in keeping with a promise made in the Jamaica Labour Party’s 2007 election manifesto.
“We feel that the political system and the institutions that it gives rise to it are in need of renewal,” Mr. Golding said. He noted that the legislation seeks to restrict the leader-centric nature of the current political system, which is often an impediment to renewal.
“It is intended, in section 70 of the Constitution, to insert two new subsections. Subsection one (a) will simply say a person shall not be appointed to the office of the Prime Minister if he or she has held that office for periods, which, when added together total more than nine years,” Mr. Golding said.
The Prime Minister made it clear that a serving Prime Minister will not be required to automatically vacate the post on reaching the nine year limit.
“The Bill, as drafted, makes provision that if you have served for nine years and you are still in office, you continue to serve. So, it is not a matter that once you have reach nine years you must demit office. What it means is that at the expiration of that term, you could not be appointed again because you will have already have served a period in excess of nine years,” Mr. Golding explained.
Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, said that the Opposition was not in support of the legislation, arguing that “it will be ineffective and it is unnecessary.”
She recommended that the debate on the Bill should be suspended and consultations held with the wider public so as to get their opinion on the matter.
Leader of Government Business in the House, Hon. Andrew Holness, accepted the suggestion from Mrs. Simpson Miller and the debate was suspended to facilitate further discussion.