Shuman backs Constitutional Reform Bill, laments absence of APNU+AFC
Deputy Speaker and Leader of the Liberty and Justice Party Lenox Shuman backed the government’s Constitutional Reform Commission Bill but asked for more indigenous representation to guarantee that Guyana’s first people participate entirely in the reform process.
This much-anticipated Bill was scheduled for its second reading on Monday as lawmakers gathered at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre at Liliendaal, Georgetown.
He said the Bill has his “wholehearted and full support” but asked that the government consider adding one more representative from non-governmental organisations (NGOS) that represent indigenous people along with adding the Indigenous People’s Commission to the proposed entity that will lead countrywide consultations on constitutional reform.
The Bill proposes the establishment of a 20-member Constitution Reform Commission to review the country’s supreme laws through countrywide public participation.
With the added representation of Guyana’s indigenous people, Shuman believes that the country’s first people will be better included in the expected consultations.
“…it is my humble view that we reach as many of those people in those communities as possible and it is my hope that when we go through this process, those far-flung communities are given extra attention so that they can fully and meaningfully contribute to the process,” Shuman said.
Beyond this, however, the Deputy Speaker joined government speakers in registering his disappointment that members of the APNU+AFC opposition were absent from the debate.
Shuman was the only Opposition Parliamentarian who participated in the opening debate of the Bill after members of the APNU+AFC opposition walked out of the House earlier.
The Deputy Speaker reminded fellow Parliamentarians that constitutional reform is of paramount importance to all Guyanese and it has been promised by all political parties.
“… but yet there is a party that claims to represent over 50 per cent of the people but decide that they do not want to participate in this very critical and important discussion,” he lamented.
“Constitutional reform, in my humble view, should not be an issue of which side of the political line you sit.”