Although it has withdrawn its membership from the Constitution Reform Advisory Committee (CRAC), the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is keen on keeping an eagle’s eye on the process.
Late last month NDC which is one of the organisations making up CRAC withdrew its membership on the grounds that a handful of members of the committee were making decisions without the knowledge of the broader membership.
The island’s main opposition political party has consistently insisted that it is committed to constitutional reform, and had former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas as its representative on the committee.
Addressing a public meeting at Sauteurs, St. Patrick last week Wednesday night, NDC’s substitute Representative on CRAC, Vincent Roberts said Congress supports the reform process of the constitution, but as it participated in the process “we saw the bus going in a direction which we didn’t like.”
Roberts who serves on the party’s Executive as Recording Secretary indicated that the party is not happy with the fact that recommendations put forward to Cabinet for constitutional changes to be made had excluded those from previous Commissions of Sir Fred Phillip, Justice Lyle St. Paul, and Professor Randy McIntosh which the NDC supported and recommended to CRAC which is lead by constitutional lawyer, Dr. Francis Alexis.
According to Roberts, one of the party’s concerns which led to its withdrawal is due to the fact that a report is yet to be written by CRAC on the National Consultation that took place on October 15, 2014 at the Grenada Trade Centre.
The consultation was attended by over 1200 people, and a petition with 4,024 signatures supporting the items recommended by the previous Commissions was presented to CRAC by NDC.
“The National Democratic Congress realized that… we were sitting on a bus and if we were not careful we would reach a destination that we did not want to go to, so we asked please, you’re not listening to us, we want to get off the bus,” Robert said.
The NDC alternative representative on CRAC indicated that withdrawing its membership from the committee, does not mean that NDC is withdrawing from the constitution reform process.
Roberts said if the party withdraws from the process there is a danger that the reform can take place through the referendum which may see changes that the party may not really like.
The constitutional changes can only take place if two-thirds of the electorate vote and a similar majority of the Members of Parliament vote in its favour.
Following NDC’s withdrawal, Dr. Alexis wrote to the Political Leader Senator Nazim Burke asking him to reconsider his party’s position.
NDC had assured that it would meet to analyse the letter sent by Dr. Alexis, but Roberts made no mention about if the matter was discussed or what decision the party took on the way forward at last week’s Executive meeting.
Meanwhile, Legal Affairs Minister Elvin Nimrod has taken a swipe at NDC for pulling out of CRAC.
Minister Nimrod said he is not surprised that the opposition party has withdrawn its membership and accused Congress of not being committed to constitutional reform.
“We bent over backwards to try to accommodate that political association,” he said.
“It is my own belief that no matter if we had given them the sun and the moon, they never had the intention I believe to play a pivotal role in this process,” he remarked.
The two year old Keith Mitchell-led government in St. George’s has set aside October as the date for the National referendum on Constitutional reform.