One of the island’s best known and most outspoken person living with a disability, John Rullow is calling on Grenadians to boycott next year’s planned referendum aimed at effecting some changes to the Grenada Constitution.
In an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY newspaper, Rullow said that what Grenada needs is a brand new constitution to replace the one that the island inherited in 1974 when it attained its independence from Great Britain.
A frequent caller to local radio stations, Rullow spoke of being concerned with the type of consultations on Constitutional Reform that was undertaken by the government-appointed committee headed by leading local lawyer, Dr. Francis Alexis.
He favours “a holistic approach” to addressing the Grenada Constitution and one that involves the setting up of a National Constituent Assembly to get the views of all Grenadians.
According to Rullow, he has formed the impression that what the Keith Mitchell-led government is attempting to do is to engage more or less in constitutional amendment and not reform.
“Who are they consulting? Who is consulting whom? This is the question (to be asked) because they claim to have consulted with the people, yet the people have made 25 proposals, they have thrown away thirteen and they are only putting twelve – what they feel,” he said.
Rullow expressed fears that the advice and information given by the people at this point in time is not seriously being taken into consideration and that this amounted to disrespect for the people.
“…The people collectively own the Constitution and sovereign power and therefore if you want to do anything with the framework foundational law of the nation to run this country for another four or five decades then the people have to be involved”, he said.
The visible impaired national noted that the constitution must be made brand new, since it is public knowledge that the document was prepared by outsiders and handed down on Grenadians as part of the granting of independence.
Rullow criticised the present constitution as one that gave too many powers to the political directorate.
“We saw what this constitution permitted all through the years, the abuses of these politicians; they have ripped off the nation. We have seen public servants who are the people who signed government cheques get rich in less than no time.
“…We would have heard of the mischief made by senior politicians including the leaders of this country and the secrecy they run this country with. We’re seeing laws modified in this country to facilitate 30 million dollars taken out of the coffers of the Consolidated Fund to run a private business, which busted and not a cent paid back to the state.
“…They (political leaders) running this country as their private tuck shop and that (shouldn’t) happen but the existing constitutional construct permits it so none of them can’t be taken to task, what they get is a slap on the wrist and they go on.
His reference to the millions taken out of the Consolidated Fund is apparently related to the Call Centre venture involving close family members of current Prime Minister Mitchell.
When the National Democratic Congress (NDC) of Tillman Thomas won the 2008 general elections, it did not pursue the commitment given by Dr. Mitchell to Parliament that his family members will repay their share of monies owed to the Treasury in the Call Centre deal.
Rullow wants to see a brand new constitution for Grenada that would create better checks and balances “so that the people of the nation can have justice and equality and those who break the law and abuse their powers, shall be taken to task.”
“I am proposing a Constituent Assembly, it shall be an elected one, not selected, it shall work where you take the old constitution and all the suggestions from the people for what they want, you take it to them under the mango trees, rum shop, crossroad, the same as you do when you go for election and hear from them, have them involved, make a bond between them and their constitution and then these people will vote for the Constituent Assembly, the people who they choose to represent them and what they feel that they want in this assembly.
“We will be eliminating that of privileges where one group of people hand picking. I am saying it’s anti-democratic, the process that they are doing here (the Alexis Committee) and it should be rejected.
“…The people should prepare themselves to (give) a no vote or if possible as soon as possible to cancel this process and furthermore to bring these people to task for treason, for using authority that they don’t have.
As a person with disability, Rullow said he cannot transfer his powers to the Constitutional Reform Committee just like that and that they must first convince him that they would do something for him.