Govt to review Constitution Reform Report

first_imgSome one month after the Constitution Reform Report was handed over to Government, talks are yet to commence. However, President David Granger has stated that this will soon change as Cabinet is expected to start full discussions on the recommendations made.The report was handed over to Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo on April 30 by Convener and Chairman of the Constitutional Reform Steering Committee (CRSC), Attorney Nigel Hughes. The Committee was established last August by Government.Speaking on his weekly televised programme – The Public Interest – on Friday, the Head of State noted that Constitution reform is part of the agenda of the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition Administration.“Nigel Hughes has already presented a preliminary report and we will be proceeding with discussing that report more fully,” he declared.As part of the reform process, Government had touted major changes to the governance structure, including separate elections to elect a President and National Assembly members; the capping of presidential powers; and changes to the composition of service commissions, among others.Government had promised that they will have consultations with civil society and the Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) before making any Constitutional reforms; something, which the Guyanese Leader said on Friday that his Administration is committed to. He pointed out that widespread consultation with all stakeholders is needed before any such reforms is undertaken.“If it involves ‘taming’ the powers of the Executive, then so be it but let the people speak and don’t let us try to tell the people what to think. Let us find out what they need,” he posited.According to the President, in light of the many controversies that surrounded Constitution reforms over the last 40 years, it is imperative to go to the people and find out what they think.“We need to have consultations and we need to listen to them. Some people seemed to have jump to conclusions and they have their own ideas about the form that reforms should take. My view is that the people know best and it’s better to consult them,” the Head of State remarked.He went on to say that consultations will span the lengthen and breath of the country so that there is consensus about what Guyanese need in the their Constitution.“I don’t want a boardroom constitutional reform, I want a public discussion. I want people in their communities to meet and express their views. I don’t want a group of people sitting in a room saying what must be done,” he stated.Constitutional reform has been a very hot campaign issue. In its elections manifesto, the APNU/AFC coalition touted a number of constitutional reforms including presidential powers, sexual orientation and the electoral system.“The Constitution, in its current form, does not serve the best interest of Guyana or its people. Within three months of taking up office, APNU/AFC will appoint a commission to amend the Constitution with the full participation of the people. The new Constitution will put the necessary checks and balances in place to consolidate our ethos of liberal democracy. Freedom of speech, reduction of the power of the President and the Bill of Rights will be enshrined in the document,” read an excerpt from the manifesto.Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo had also declared during an elections campaign over a year ago in Vreed-en-Hoop that too much power is concentrated on one person’s hands.Meanwhile, the Constitutional Reform Steering Committee will be responsible for effecting the changes to the Constitution when Government finalises its decision.The Committee which comprises of former Director of Transparency International and Attorney Gino Persaud, Professor Harold Lutchman, former Magsitrate Geeta Chandan-Edmond, and is chaired by Attorney and AFC Executive Member Nigel Hughes was established by the subcommittee on Parliamentary Affairs reportedly without consultation from the parliamentary Opposition.General Secretary of the PPP Clement Rohee had explained at the time last year that his party was not invited to field any representative to the Committee, while noting that at the moment, the Party has no interest in those matters as it is focused on preparing for Parliament.Rohee said that the Party views the persons appointed as “APNU/AFC hacks” and “residents of Office of the President”.“None of those persons are independent. They are all hacks and employees of the Office of the President in some shape or form. You do not have to even guess about which road they will venture down as it clear what their mandate is,” he stated.Moreover, he maintained that the PPP was proud of its accomplishments as far as constitutional reforms piloted back in the 2000s were concerned.last_img read more