No comment from NDC

The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has declined comment on the four additional proposals which Cabinet have decided upon to become part of the Constitution reform process.

Last week, Legal Affairs Minister Elvin Nimrod announced that the Constitution Reform Advisory Committee (CRAC) had submitted to Cabinet six additional proposals to be included in the planned referendum for Constitutional reform.

The four proposals which Cabinet agreed to were for the Head of State to be appointed by an Electoral College comprising members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, a limit of three consecutive terms for the Prime Minister, an Opposition Leader at all times in Parliament, and a fixed date for holding General Elections.

A proposal for a Unicameral Chamber of Parliament which was one of the proposal submitted was withdrawn, while the proposal pertaining to recall of elected Members of Parliament after serving 18 months was rejected by Cabinet.

However, Nimrod, the island’s deputy Prime Minister told reporters at a recent post-Cabinet press briefing that the near two year old administration has determined that the fixed dates for General Elections can be done through legislation.

When contacted, political leader of the NDC, Senator Nazim Burke said he has not yet seen the final documents and until then the NDC has decided against making any official comment.

Sen. Burke indicated that in order for his political organisation to evaluate the Cabinet’s position on the proposals, he will need to see what has happened through the reports that were prepared by CRAC following the October 15th 2014 national consultation that took place at the Grenada Trade Centre.

The NDC boss recalled that during the consultation his political party presented CRAC with 4,024 signatures coming out of a petition which called for consideration to be given to six proposals as part of the Constitution Reform Process.

The four new proposals that have been agreed to by Cabinet were among the six that NDC is seeking to have included in the referendum.

According to Sen. Burke, NDC wants to see how CRAC captured the recommendations that were placed before it during the national consultation.

He said Congress has already written to the Legal Counsel on CRAC, Robert Branch requesting a copy of the recommendations that were sent to Cabinet, and also a copy of the final version of the report of the national consultation.

Sen. Burke reiterated that NDC supports constitution reform, but does not support the idea of making “cosmetic changes” to the constitution.

Attorney-at-Law Ruggles Ferguson who is a member of the advisory committee explained the process that takes place before the referendum is held.

Ferguson who represents the OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States) Bar Associations said a number of Bills will now have to be drafted and taken to Parliament to be legislated.

He anticipates that with the House of Representatives having no Opposition members that there would be no disagreements with the proposals.

A 90-day period will first have to elapse after the first reading of the Bills at the House of Representatives before the second reading takes place.

Once passed in the House, the Bills then go to the Senate for debate and then before the population for voting the referendum in which a two-thirds of the votes are required in its favour.

Once successful, the results are carried through, the Speaker’s Certificate goes to the Government General for ascent and then it becomes law.

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