JLP's Franklin willing to share views on Ombudsman's future

Balford Henry

Friday, August 10, 2012

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JAMAICA Labour Party (JLP) General Secretary Aundre Franklin says that he has no problem submitting to Parliament's Human Resource and Social Development Committee his views on the future of the Office of the Political Ombudsman.

However, Franklin refused to air his views prior to an anticipated invitation from the committee's chairman, Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Rudyard Spencer, which was undertaken at the last meeting on July 31 after the committee received an e-mail from People's National Party (PNP) General Secretary Peter Bunting.

The committee is reviewing a motion moved in the House of Representatives by Opposition MP Everald Warmington regarding the relevance of the Office of the Political Ombudsman.

"I would hope that they would write to me, so I can have a say, too," Franklin told the Jamaica Observer.

In his e-mail, Bunting said that in his observation and judgment, "the interventions of the Office of the Political Ombudsman have been of only modest value during this period". He was referring to the period since 2007, during which he has been interfacing with the Ombudsman's office as a candidate, as well as general secretary of the PNP.

"I do not believe that it is efficient to maintain an Office of the Political Ombudsman for the next few years, since elections are not due within that timeframe," added Bunting, the current minister of national security. He also suggested that a possible approach would be to have the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) provide the administrative support for an Office of the Ombudsman, and only appoint an ombudsman when elections are in the offing.

He noted that, as general secretary of the PNP, he was the "primary interface" with the political ombudsman for the by-elections and two national elections (parliamentary and local government) since January, 2008. However, he pointed out that while the points made in his e-mail were based on his experiences as general secretary of the PNP, they were not the policy position of the party.

Blair later told the committee that he was not surprised by the views expressed by Bunting in the e-mail. "I can safely say that I knew he expressed that (opinion), especially his last comments in the document... it's not anything new," the ombudsman said.




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