Constitutional Reform Bills to go to Parliament

The Keith Mitchell-led Administration will today (December 4) bring to Parliament the six Constitution Reform Bills for their first reading.

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Legal Affairs Minister Elvin Nimrod reminded members of the Lower House that Grenada has been embarking upon constitutional reform since 1985 with Sir Fred Phillip leading the charge.

Minister Nimrod said although the Constitution has served the people of Grenada for over 40 years since the country attained political independence from Great Britain in 1974, he believes it is time that citizens are given the opportunity to have an input “in the most important law that governs all of us.”

The Legal Affairs Minister briefed the House on the recent process that has been taking place under the Mitchell Administration to achieve constitutional reform.

He spoke of Cabinet having appointed a Constitutional Reform Advisory Committee (CRAC), headed by former Attorney General and Constitutional Lawyer, Queen’s Counsel Dr. Francis Alexis last year.

The mandate given to the committee was to identify areas of the constitution that needed reform.

Minister Nimrod said initially 25 items were identified but only 12 were brought forward by CRAC and these were approved by Cabinet and then sent back to the committee.
He noted that in August 2014, the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), which had membership on CRAC, presented another six items for consideration of which “a substantial number” were taken on board.

The Legal Affairs Minister told Parliament the seven Bills were once again sent to Cabinet for final approval before being tabled in the House.

With the exception of a fixed date for election and the tenure of the Governor General by an Electoral College comprising members of both Houses of Parliament as a proposed item, the others were all endorsed by Cabinet.

One of the Bills going to Parliament is the tenure of the Prime Minister to serve for three consecutive terms.

The other Bills are the appointment of a Leader of the Opposition at all times, change the name of State to include Carriacou and Petit Martinique, fixed date for general elections, rights and freedoms, and the establishment of an Elections and Boundaries Commission.
Following the first reading, the Bills will be laid in the Lower House of Parliament for 90 days before it is read a second time.

A referendum to decide on constitutional reform is scheduled to take place in the first quarter of 2016.

It is estimated that the whole process for constitutional reform will cost $2.1M.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is giving support to the referendum on constitutional reform through a project that is scheduled to be launched today.

UNDP will be providing the media with information about stakeholders’ involvement as well as ways in which United Nations Agencies are offering support.

Speculation is rife that Congress leaders are preparing to organize a “no-vote” campaign against the current Constitutional Reform.

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