Constitutional Reform Bill for National Assembly before August Recess

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Amid concerns that the government had abandoned its manifesto promise to lead the process of constitutional reform, government has announced plans to have the Constitutional Reform and Consultative Bill laid in the National Assembly before the parliamentary recess in August.

According to a press release from the Department of Public Information (DPI), the government remains committed to the process of constitutional reform and has been working steadily to put all the necessary mechanisms and framework in place.

The coalition government had set up a Steering Committee on Constitutional Reform (SCCR), headed by Attorney Nigel Hughes, to draft a work programme and make recommendations for constitutional reform.

The report was since submitted to the Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo.

According to the recommendations made by the SCCR in its report, the Constitutional Commission should consist of four or five constitutional law experts, two or three judges, foreign constitutional law experts, experienced lawyers, civil society and academics.

Accompanying this proposal was a list of experts, who enjoy the confidence of the Committee, including Sir Fenton Ramsahoye, SC; Miles Fitzpatrick, SC; Rex McKay, SC; Ralph Ramkarran, SC; Douglas Mendez, SC; Stephen Fraser; Dr. Lloyd Barnett; Dr. Nigel Harris; Sir Shridath Ramphal, and Rashleigh Jackson, among others.

The report also said a three-tiered system for the Commission should be considered, noting that a set of legal experts (6-11) should prepare a draft-based document, incorporating some of the recommendations of the Committee. That document, according to the SCCR, should then be shared with wider stakeholders, including representatives of political parties and civil society.

The SCCR also said that the Commission should include one representative from the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), Alliance for Change (AFC), the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), the Trade Unions, a youth representative, the Guyana Bar Association (GBA), the Indian Arrival Committee (IAC), the Indigenous Peoples, the African Cultural and Development Association (ACDA), the Hindu Community, the Christian Community and the Islamic Community.

Nagamootoo had told media operatives previously that one of the changes he’d like to see happening is the reduction of presidential powers.

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