St. John, Antigua — A Grenadian lawyer and a former head of the Antigua & Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) have advised the government to abandon the upcoming referendum on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and begin public consultation toward an entirely new Constitution.
According to former Attorney General of Grenada, James “Jimmy” Bristol, the government of Grenada lost its referendum bid to move to the CCJ because its people were left “uninformed” and “wanted broader reform”.
“It’s time for a new Constitution. The present Constitution – there are too many loose ends. There is too much power in the hands of the Prime Minister. There is no accountability. Once a government gets in they can do what they want with impunity,” Bristol declared.
Last Thursday, Grenadians voted down seven pieces of legislation which the government proposed to amend that country’s Constitution.
Among them was one to replace the final appellate jurisdiction of the London based Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) with the CCJ.
However, less than a third of the 70,000 registered voters turned out to take part and those who did mostly voted no.
The lawyer said, “A friend of mine who runs a fairly sizable construction company gave all his workmen the time off to go and vote.
They told him that they’d prefer to work, earn the dollars, because they knew nothing about the referendum.
“The fact that people didn’t turn up shows a very mature electorate saying ‘do not try to think that we are imbeciles – that you don’t have to consult us…we are going to ignore you… “The government didn’t even get a simple majority on even one of the seven bills…” he said, adding: “I’m (proud) of the Grenadian people.”
Former Chairman of the ABEC, Juno Samuel, declared, “We need to write a new constitution. If we don’t do that I think we’re moving backwards,” and said in his opinion, “The people of Antigua & Barbuda want constitutional reform.”
Samuel told locals that in the event the government goes through with the referendum on the CCJ in 2017, they should vote ‘no’ in protest of not being given wider constitutional reform.