Legislators adjust laws to favour INEC

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Legislators adjust laws to favour INEC

Post  nex on Thu Jul 29, 2010 8:13 pm

The National Assembly has approved amendments to the law establishing and guiding the activities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in accordance with the request of the new leadership of the commission.

The Harmonised INEC Act, which was adopted by both chambers of the National Assembly, on Thursday, shows that the lawmakers’ voted in favour of the special amendments requested by the new INEC team. Atahiru Jega, the chairman of INEC, had, in his maiden press conference on 22 July, requested for specific amendment of some sections of the existing INEC act to enhance the commission’s chances at conducting a credible free and fair elections in 2011. Mr. Jega requested the special amendments to sections 10 (5), 21 and 11 (4) of the 2006 INEC Act, which was at that point being amended by the National Assembly, to reflect the changes caused by the amended 1999 constitution.

The amendments

Mr. Jega said the new leadership requested the amendment of section 10 (5) of the electoral act to reduce the time for end of registration, updating and revision of the voters’ register from 120 days before election to 60 days. “This gives us an additional eight weeks, bringing the total period available to compile a new register to 16 weeks,” he said. He also requested for the amendment of section 21 of the act to reduce the time for completion of supplementary list of voters, integration into the existing register and final certification from 60 days before the election to 30 days.

Although the amendments sought by the new INEC team was the initial position of the senate on the amendment of the INEC Act, the House of Reps had voted to retain the old timelines. The process of lawmaking requires both chambers to agree on every section of the Act before it will be passed into law. During the harmonisation, the representatives however voted in favour of the stance of the senate and as requested by the new INEC team. The harmonised copy of the bill will be forwarded to the president for his assent and subsequent passage into law. The new INEC act reflects a radical deviation from the past stipulating stiffer regulation for campaigns and party funding and harsh penalties for offenders.

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