With less than one week to go before the October 27th referendum comes off, the legality of the date is being questioned.
Former Attorney General, James Bristol raised the issue as a guest on last “Sunday’s With George Grant Programme” aired on Chime FM.
Bristol said that after he took a look at the Government Gazette pertaining to the writs for the referendum to verify if it complies with the Referendum Act, it seems to him that the timing has not been met.
“I would certainly invite the powers-that-be and CRAC (Constitution Reform Advisory Committee) to have a look at the timing of the process as dictated by the Referendum Act,” he told the programme host.
Bristol pointed out that Section 5, sub-section 2 (b) of the Referendum Act says that the referendum is to take place not less than 21 days after the publication of the writ and the accompanying Bills are published in two issues of the Gazette and two issues of a newspaper circulating in Grenada.
He submitted that the 21-day period will be on October 30th.
Acting Governor General, Sir Daniel Williams, issued the writs on September 26th.
“Legally, from what I have read in the Government Gazette and in the Referendum Act, it doesn’t appear that the referendum if it is held on the 27th (October) will be a legal referendum, and it will be unlawful,” he said.
“In the mad rush for whatever the reason, you’re going to make mistakes. But when your vision is clouded and your focus is on other than doing good for the people under your governance, these are the things that happen,” he added.
The City Barrister told the host of the programme the gap of uncertainty and potential interference in the constitutional running of the country has widened.
“Why the rush? Why don’t we do things properly? I am only appealing for what Dr. (Francis) Alexis has inserted, ‘due process’,” he said.
Bristol charged that the constitutional rights of the electorate to participate in the referendum are being infringed because of the lack of due process.
He said a bird’s eye view has to be taken questioning how are the decisions for the referendum impacting the citizens, and what are the benefits to the people.
Bristol holds the view that there was a lack of consultation leading up to the referendum.
“What we have now is the campaigning right around the country to get people to vote “yes.” Why was this not done before?” he asked.
He said after having been formed with a membership of 14, the voices of only three members of CRAC are now being heard – Chairman, Dr. Francis Alexis, and fellow attorneys, Robert Branch and Ruggles Ferguson.
Bristol spoke of the Alliance of Evangelical Churches (AEC) having a meeting last week during which they voted against supporting the Bill on Gender Equity.
He said had AEC which has membership on CRAC been properly consulted they would not have reached to that point.
“It shows it is evident of the lack of consultation,” he added.