“The people are not ready for a referendum”.
That’s the view expressed by Political Leader of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) Senator Nazim Burke, during a special press conference at the party’s headquarters in St. George’s last week Thursday.
Sen. Burke told reporters that “the proposed changes to the Constitution have not been sufficiently explained to the voting population and the majority of Grenadians still do not know or understand what they are being asked to vote for or against on referendum day”.
The Congress leader accused the ruling Keith Mitchell-led government of “failing to adequately explain to the voting population and the nation as a whole what changes are proposed to the Constitution, what the changes will mean for our democracy and our country and what is expected of them on referendum day”.
“We (NDC) know for a fact that Government of Grenada has received a substantial sum of money from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to educate the people about the Constitution reform and the referendum”, he said.
Out of concern that “we do not adapt a position inconsistent with the wishes and aspirations of the Grenadian people”, Sen. Burke said the NDC commissioned an opinion poll conducted among “about 800 people” by Don Anderson from Jamaica who specialises in Market Research, Polling and Analysis Political Electoral Polling Field Surveys, to assist in determining what the Grenadian people wanted.
He pointed out that “the poll results, which were received only Tuesday last indicate that while 5% of those polled said they supported all of the changes proposed and 6% said they did not support any of the changes proposed, 13% said they were not sure about their position and 43% said they did not know much about the changes to offer any comment”.
“The poll therefore revealed that 56% of the threshold were either confused or did not know or understand what is going on and what is expected of them on referendum day.
“Furthermore, when asked whether they intended to vote on the issues on referendum on Referendum Day, 34% indicated they intended to vote, 16% indicated that they did not intend to vote and 49% indicated that they were not sure if they would vote.
Sen. Burke said the poll” shows beyond doubt that the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique are not ready for a referendum on the reform of the Grenada Constitution.
“We are not going to play politics with this process and have said before that we will prefer to approach the reform of the Grenada Constitution on the basis of consensus. Instead the government wishes to employ strong hand tactics”, he said.
“We will not be bullied into submission on this issue”, he added. Sen. Burke stated that as the main opposition in the country, NDC has an obligation to ensure that all that is done in relation to changing the Constitution, which is the supreme law is done properly.
It is the duty of congress, he said to ensure that “the procedures and practices that are adopted are correct and do not violate established laws conventions, norms and standards”.
Sen. Burke encouraged the voting populace to “not sit on the side” but exercise their rights to help decide whether the Constitution should be changed in the manner now proposed by the NNP administration.
“In the end your vote for or against in the referendum must be an informed one – in the best interest of our country as a modern democratic state – we respect the right of the people to vote with their conscience”, he added.
Last month, a Congress spokesman indicated that NDC would give support to those pushing a “vote No” campaign for the October 27 Referendum.