Law, Anselm Clouden has called for a ‘yes vote’ on November 6 for the CCJ issue amidst calls by the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and some legal minds for the referendum to be postponed.
In its first major pronouncement on the CCJ vote, NDC has called for the postponement of the referendum vote on the grounds that the CCJ Bill, which was approved by the Grenada Parliament, is erroneously flawed.
The party’s interim Political Leader, Joseph Andall, was accompanied by Attorney-at-Law Claudette Joseph, when he made the call Monday during a press conference held at the new NDC headquarters at Mt. Gay.
Andall had made a similar call while addressing a CCJ consultation session last week Wednesday, at the auditorium at Westerhall Secondary School in St. David, where he was invited by the CCJ Advisory Committee, to be one of the speakers.
At Monday press briefing both Andall and Joseph announced that they “will not vote for the CCJ Bill” as it is currently written.
However, in strong opposing to the NDC’s position, Attorney Clouden, who held a separate press conference at his Lucas Street office hours after the NDC event, told reporters that the many concerns raised by Congress can be addressed after the referendum is held on November 6.
“Whatever concerns there are…it could be addressed. We do not have to make it a condition precedent to a political party telling its people (supporters) to come out in numbers and vote no…and as a former foundation member of the National Democratic Congress, I am calling on all Congress supporters to come out in your numbers and vote yes for CCJ, your Caribbean Court,” Clouden declared.
Unlike Clouden, Attorney-at-Law Jerry Edwin of the law firm of Eden Law Caribbean told THE NEW TODAY two weeks ago that the CCJ Bill, which was recently approved by the Grenada Parliament is “erroneously flawed.”
The NDC officials told reporters that the party took the decision to engage the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government on the CCJ and was hoping to make a valuable contribution to the national process.
However, according to Joseph, who contested the Town of St. George seat in the March 13 General Election, the party was “surprised,” when the lawmakers rushed to Parliament two (2) weeks ago but made no major amendment to the Representation of the People Act, leaving out a range of other recommendations that the NDC believes should have been adhered to.
In issuing the call for postponement of the referendum at the CCJ forum in St. David, Andall reiterated that “the National Democratic Congress is not and has never been opposed to the CCJ (and that) the CCJ is another step to the achievement of Caribbean unity.
He went on: “And in the NDC, we know that eventually one way or another, the CCJ in its appellate jurisdiction, will become a reality, not only in Grenada but throughout the Caribbean, (however) the NDC sees the CCJ as an opportunity to introduce a new brand of politics in Grenada. It does not mean that opposition would no longer oppose. What it means is that we have to look at the bipartisan or the multipartite approach to issues that transcend narrow partisan political boundaries”.
However, the Interim NDC leader warned that, “bipartisanship should not stop at the CCJ,” noting that there are several burning issues related to the way national elections are held in Grenada and that the Peoples’ Representation Act, in which several flaws have been identified by the OAS and CARICOM observer missions over the last two general elections held in Grenada.
These issues, he said, “affect the very core of our democracy…and I believe that no one is holding a gun to the head of government saying do it November 6 or else La Qua is in business.”
Congress also expressed support for the stand taken by the Grenada Trade Union Council (GTUC) with the haste in which government is seeking to get approval for the CCJ as the country’s final appellate court.
Another contentious issue raised by the TUC, deals with the CCJ Bill taking the same position of the Privy Council pursuant to Section 37 of the Grenada Constitution, that questions of political appointment would not be heard by it.
Andall urged the authorities to “please consider the position of the TUC (Trades Union Council) and of all other interested parties in terms of the timeline set for the execution of this historic event.”
He also suggested that the “Bill be taken back to the table so that adjustments can be made.”
However, Clouden, who admitted on Monday that “enough time hasn’t been spent…educating the people (on the CCJ),” expressed the view that “the little that has been said is enough to clear all those concerns that have been raised.”
“A Bill, will eventually become an Act and an Act could be amended, so if there are any flaws in the bill it could be corrected – Parliament is powerful enough to correct it and this Parliament is a full house…So let us stop the bickering and politicking about we want this legislation to be dealt with any amendment to the representation of the Peoples’ Act could be dealt with after November 6,” Attorney Clouden said.
He went on: “We have an engagement with destiny on November 6, that our forefathers have bestowed to us and we must show them dead and alive that we have taken the opportunity to severe the umbilical cord once and for all and give to our people the freedom that they ought to have enjoyed since 1838.
“I am calling on my countrymen and in particular, the young people between the ages of 18 and 36 to come out in your numbers and vote positively…for a court designed for all Caribbean people…”.