Head of the Constitution Reform Advisory Committee (CRAC), Dr. Francis Alexis has explained the rationale behind his committee putting forward to Cabinet the proposal for a term limit of three consecutive terms for the Prime Minister as part of the constitutional reform process.
The term limit for the Prime Minister is among four other proposals submitted to Cabinet by CRAC.
The others are the selection of Governor General by an Electoral College, comprising Members of the House of Representative, and the Senate, the appointment of a Leader of the Opposition at all times, and having a fixed date for General Elections.
However, Cabinet felt that the fixed date for holding election can be legislated and not put on the Referendum ballot.
In a television interview on Monday, Dr. Alexis said the new proposals that were agreed upon by Cabinet came from a process involving people through different consultation, and in particular the national consultation that took place on October 15th 2014 at the Grenada Trade Center at Morne Rouge, Grand Anse.
Dr. Alexis, a noted Constitutional Lawyer, indicated that there are different models on term limits, and that CRAC was guided by those operating in Belize and Guyana.
According to him, CRAC felt that after looking at the Belize and Guyana models that the safer thing to propose is a three term limit, as they do not anticipate the electorate to vote one person as Prime Minister all these times.
“We are quite clear in our minds that this is reasonable compromise and we are going with it,” he said.
Dr. Alexis also provided details on the other proposals that were submitted to Cabinet.
With regards to having a Leader of the Opposition at all times the constitutional Lawyer explained that just as the Governor General will appoint the Prime Minister out of the ranks of the winning political party in a General Elections, similarly the Head of State will appoint a Leader of the Opposition from the political party which obtained the next highest number of votes even if the winning party wins all the existing parliamentary seats.
Dr. Alexis said he knows of no other country in the Commonwealth where that is provided.
Dr. Alexis said the reason for withdrawing the proposal to have a unicameral Chamber of Parliament is based on the fact that the history of Grenada show that a Bill introduced to Parliament for the first time is rushed through all stages during one sitting of the Lower House of Parliament.
He said CRAC which is a broad-based committee felt that if a mistake is made with that particular Bill it can be picked up in the Senate which could advise that a second look be taken.
No consideration was given by CRAC for proportional representation which Dr. Alexis said his committee believes can help to promote disunity, as well as encourage a proliferation of political parties.
According to Dr. Alexis, decision day for the referendum has to come and his advisory committee believes that the latest decisions coming out of Cabinet on the items to go forward constitute a positive package for the referendum but they must continue the process of public education.
Three public consultations on women and gender issues are planned for January 23rd at the Grenada National Stadium, January 27th, at the St. Andrew’s Anglican Secondary School, and January 30th in Carriacou.
The consultations are not aimed at getting new ideas for the upcoming referendum but for the purpose of educating the population about constitutional reform.
The CRAC chairman said the advisory committee believes that the package has a lot that is positive, and that no one person or group will ever get all that they want.
“In our view the overall package has a lot in it that is positive and, therefore, we commend it to our fellow Grenadians, Carriacouans, and Petite Martiniquans”, he said.