Foreign Affairs Minister Peter David has called on Grenadians to put aside their petty political differences and vote in favour of a referendum to be held Tuesday that will allow the island to replace the London-based Privy Council as its final court.
The referendum is schedule for November 6, the same day when Antigua and Barbuda, another Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country stages its own referendum on whether to replace the Privy Council with the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
Speaking at the annual convention of the ruling New National Party (NNP) on Sunday, David, who is the party’s Assistant General Secretary said, “I want to speak to everybody out there, who loves Grenada, who loves this country let us for once put Grenada first”.
David, the Member of Parliament for the Town of St. George, said there should be support for the CCJ that was established by CARICOM leaders in 2001 as the region’s final court and which also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement.
“If you believe in the CCJ, if you NDC (National Democratic Congress), NNP, PLP (People’s Labour Party), what-ever you are, let us vote CCJ”, he said.
“I heard the leaders of the trade unions say they support the CCJ, I have heard the church leaders say they support the CCJ, I have heard the leader of the NNP say he supports CCJ, I have never heard so many sectors of our country say they support something”, he added.
David went on: “It’s the one time when I see that leaders have unanimity on an issue, everybody says they support it, well if you do support it then vote for it because you cannot allow petty differences to stop us. I am speaking to my friends who are not here, you cannot allow partisan tribalism as you had allowed in 1983 to separate us.
“If we support it, we support it. If the leaders of the trade union movement say they support it, then vote for it on November 6. The workers who follow them must do what they say and support it, if the leaders of the NDC say they support it, then members of the NDC should vote for it, if the leader of the NNP says he supports it and the party supports it, then the party members must support it, the point I am making is this, we have to come together,” said David.
“Let us disagree on other issues, let us disagree about other kinds of things, there is enough to disagree on, but let us agree on what we agree on. If not now, then when? If is over 100 years we fighting for independence, we have the chance now so let us do it,” David told the NNP convention.
The President of the Grenada Trade Union Council (GTUCP), Andre Lewis has given only conditional support to the CCJ issue and suggested that the bill should be amended to provide for disputes over electoral matters to be adjudicated upon by the CCJ and not stop at the level of the OECS Court of Appeal.
Congress has also urged its supporters to vote “No” on Tuesday as the bill should be recalled and take into consideration the views of many other stakeholders in the society.
David said that when Grenada got its independence in 1974 from Britain, London gave the island a court that citizens had no say in deciding upon.
“Did any of you vote for this two-thirds majority? We just got it because the British give it to us. We have a chance now to assert our independence, we have a chance to agree on something. I urge all of you to go out and get your people to vote, mobilise, take your car and seek them out to vote for CCJ,” he recommended.
“It is a chance for us to say to the world that Grenada can unite on something, it is a chance for us to say to the world that we are one on an issue. It is chance for us to present to the world that we are a proud people, an independent people,” said the foreign minister.
“I don’t want to bow my head in shame when I am asked what Grenada do when asked about our independence and bringing our court system into our jurisdiction and I have to say we voted against it.
“I don’t want to be going into the corridors of power throughout the world as the foreign minister and having to explain, well you know sir everybody agreed with it but because we belong to different tribes they voted against it,” said David, adding “we are one tribe, we are Grenada, I say this to my NDC brethren, to my church breth-ren, to my labour brethren, we are one, let us agree and vote for the CCJ”.
NNP Political leader and Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell told his supporters that they should see a yes vote as an investment for future generations.
“Give this exercise support, see this vote as one for our children and grandchildren future, don’t just vote but encourage others to vote,” he said.
Two years ago, Grenadians voted 12,434 to 9,492 against the 2016 Constitution of Grenada (Caribbean Court of Justice and other justice-related matters) Bill in a November 2016 referendum.
The CCJ Bill was one of seven which the electorate voted on separately in 2016. A two-thirds majority was needed for the amendments to pass, but all seven Bills were rejected by voters.