The ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) are still miles apart on the issue of Constitutional Reform.
The two major political sides in the country have seemingly not closed the gap with the October 15 date approaching for a national consultation on reformation of the Grenada Constitution.
The Mitchell-led government has signaled its intention to proceed with the 12 recommendations that was approved by Cabinet based on the submissions of the Constitutional Review Committee of noted constitutional lawyer, Dr. Francis Alexis.
The NDC, through its new political leader, Nazim Burke has said that it wants more fundamental issues such as term limits for the Prime Minister and the need for Proportional Representation to be included on the ballot paper for the national referendum to be held early next year.
Speaking at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing last week at the Ministerial Complex, Prime Minister Mitchell reiterated that constitutional reform is a continuous process and that not everything can be included in this current process.
“You can’t achieve all that you want now. I wish for my own legacy that we could have got everything done now so that in my days after leaving government I will be able to look back and say “yes” but that’s my ego, that’s not practical,” he said.
According to PM Mitchell, the 12 recommendations already accepted by Cabinet from the Alexis-led Committee do not need any more consultation.
“I think most people will want to see the question of the Caribbean Court of Justice as (the) final court of justice for our region – most of our people will want to see that so I don’t think any serious political party would want to oppose this, would anybody want to oppose Carriacou being named on the passport and go and face Carriacou and tell them to give me a vote election time. I don’t think anyone is brave enough to do that certainly not the NNP”, he said.
“…The question of the Electoral Commission, at the present time it suits the government of the day to keep the present rule in place which is the Governor General appoints the Supervisor (of Elections) and all the related personnel within the electoral process …”.
“… So the present system, if I am thinking of NNP and myself I don’t want any change but I am not thinking NNP, I think this system is a bad system, it gives too much power and responsibility to the person governing the country at the time and I think election should not be about those who govern, it should be about the country as a whole.
“…If an opposing party oppose this, they are saying to me continue with all the power that you have to make appointments”.
In an apparent reference to the issues being advanced by Congress, Dr. Mitchell said that there are indeed some controversial issues and it would be a waste of time to get them on the ballot paper in the referendum.
Minister for Legal Affairs, Elvin Nimrod, echoed the sentiments of the Prime Minister and said that government prefers to not have too may controversial issues in the referendum.
“We have seen the experience of St Vincent where the process was so politicised that in the end the result wasn’t what the government wanted and so our position is that the process, it must be transparent, it must be credible, it must be enhanced by consensus and so that in the end the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique will benefit as a whole.
“…We believe in the final analysis the Grenadian people will make a decision as to what they want to see in this process but let me make this clear to all – Constitutional Reform is not a one shot deal – it is a continuous process and one has to be very careful and not try to overload the socket.
Nimrod who also holds the post of Deputy Prime Minister indicated that other issues will come up in the next phase of Constitutional Reform in Grenada.
Speculation is rife that NDC might urge the population to vote “no” on Referendum Day to the current list of 12 recommendations from the Alexis committee, which it believes is not far-reaching and fundamental enough.