STATEMENT ISSUED BY CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS ON GRENADA CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM

The Grouping of Civil Society Organisations congratulates the thirty-two percent of the electorate who turned out to participate in Grenada’s first referendum, exercising their sovereign and democratic right to vote “yes’ or “no” to the seven proposed constitutional reform amendment bills.

The majority of these persons voted a resounding “no” to all of the bills and therefore, there will be no constitutional changes, for now.

It is the view of the Grouping that the low-turnout of voters at the referendum is cause for grave concern, even alarm. It is the view of the Grouping that the low turn out is symptomatic of:-

– A flawed constitutional reform process which failed to engage and ignite the participation of the electorate, particularly the young people who make up the majority

– the general apathy of our electorate

The Grouping’s position has always been that “the Constitution Reform process must be undertaken within the context of enhanced political consciousness and good governance. The constitution reform process should serve to lift the political consciousness of and enhance the understanding of governance by the general population.”

It is our firm view that the Constitution Reform Advisory Committee would have done well to be guided by this principle.

Nonetheless, it is also the responsibility of every citizen to be aware of individual obligations to participate in a decision-making process as important as the referendum. These rights should not be taken for granted since they were earned with the sweat and blood of those who have gone before us. It was only in 1951, just some 65 years ago, that adult suffrage was introduced to Grenada.

The Referendum results which rejected all seven bills must be seen as another opportunity for the people of Grenada to go back to the drawing board and get the constitutional reform process right and to write their own constitution, reflecting their aspirations and desires for their country.

The discussion and interest sparked by the controversy and debates over the last four months must be sustained and deepened into a constructive civic education programme through which our people will understand their constitution, their institutions of governance and their roles, responsibilities and power as citizens to participate in and influence various national decision-making processes for the achievement of good governance in our country.

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