Constitutional reform to push for ceremonial President, return power to the people – Change Guyana

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Headed by businessman Robert Badal, the recently formed Change Guyana political party on Thursday said any Parliamentary influence it garners at the upcoming general and regional elections will be used to push the constitutional reform agenda, long promised to Guyanese by the two major political parties.

Change Guyana outlined a slew of political and judicial reforms propositions, among which are reducing the powers of the President and ensuring that citizens are actively involved in the decision-making process.

At its second press conference this week held at the Pegasus hotel, party member and owner of Aracari resort on the West Bank of Demerara, Sase Seenarine charted the proposal which will make its way into the manifesto when it is released in January 2020.

Seenarine believes a referendum on a “new constitution” is necessary.

He said Change Guyana hopes to bring in constitutional experts to design a constitution which will see Guyana going back to having a ceremonial Head of State, “untouched by politics.”

“Since the 1980 constitution was put in place the President has had carte blanche to do what he wants and his immunity stretches far and wide,” he added.

He said Change Guyana wants to go to the time when citizens were directly involved in electing those who represent them in Parliament.

“People should have the right to recall their representatives at any time and decide who will make laws and who will enforce those laws,” Seenarine added.

He said the party wants to see a new constitution putting in place provisions to allow Parliament to exercise oversight over the Government

This will see the Prime Minister recruiting competent people to join the cabinet but cautioned that Members of Parliament cannot also serve at the cabinet-level as is the current practice.

He believes a lot of the ills facing Guyanese today are as a direct result of the current constitution and how it disperses political power.

“The people who find this constitution unacceptable and the ones who suffer are the people, not the politicians. Change Guyana wants a new constitution.”

Turning his attention to the judiciary, Seenarine said there is certainly a need for reform to ensure better delivery of justice and no political interference.

He maintained that reforming what he believes is a “flawed constitution” will help in reversing many of the other unfortunate issues that Guyanese are made to enduring.

This proposal from the Change Guyana party comes days after the opposition People’s Progressive Party also promised to advance the constitutional reform agenda if it is returned to Government.

Constitutional reform was also promised at the 2015 elections by the APNU+AFC coalition.

With no fulfilment of this promise, the Government has been heavily criticized for not delivering the reforms.

Some headway was made, however, with a bipartisan committee on constitutional reform being established shortly after the elections.

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