By J. Burgess Carter
The Ad Hoc Committee constituted to work on the proposed Act creating the office of the Ombudsman to oversee the Code of Conduct, on Tuesday presented its work to the Senate plenary.
The committee was set up by the leadership of the Senate after lawmakers received a letter from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf nominating members to the office of the Ombudsman for their confirmation.
In their debate on several provisions of the Act, the Senators were unanimous in agreeing that issues dealing with electoral matters under Sections 5.1 and 5.2 should not be directly under the supervision of the Ombudsman, but should instead be the responsibility of the National Elections Commission (NEC) and provisions in the Constitution be made accordingly.
The Senators were however divided on the question of the age of a member of the Ombudsman, with some suggesting 35 and above, while others suggested 40. Required among other things are experience, high IQ, and maturity.
Plenary also debated the question of qualifications, with some agreeing that the executive director should be someone with a law degree, while other members must be persons with a legal background.
On the requirement that those seeking electoral posts should resign two years prior to the elections, plenary suggested that such requirement should be handled by the NEC, and not the Ombudsman. With regards to tenure, two three-year terms as proposed in the act was agreed on.
Senator J. Milton Teahjay suggested that the Ombudsman’s office should by law have financial autonomy to help reduce the pressure of financial coercion on members.
Following their deliberations, the Senators voted that all necessary input from individual Senators must be included for a possible passage of the Act today, Thursday, June 1.