‘Swift appointment’ of Constitutional Reform Commission this year; Gov’t awaits opposition’s nominees – Nandlall


Though $150 million was budgeted in 2023 for constitutional reform plans and a building was rented and furnished for the Commission, the government was unable to set up the long-promised Constitutional Reform Commission.

However, the Parliamentary Committee of Supply Tuesday night again approved more funds for this purpose in 2024 but opposition Parliamentarians pressed Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC, for a timeline towards establishing the Commission after several deadlines in 2023 were missed.

The AG said other matters of national importance took the government’s attention away from fulfilling this promise but he assured that he will move swiftly to help President Irfaan Ali appoint the very important body this year.

But to do so, the President must review nominees from several stakeholder bodies including the Office of the Leader of the Opposition.

Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton was already written to, requesting nominees from the APNU+AFC Coalition to sit on the Commission. He has until February 10 to respond, Nandlall told the Committee of Supply on Tuesday during the consideration of the 2024 Budget Estimates.

“The government got taken up with the border issue and some other pressing issues and it did not happen in the time frame.

“But letters have gone out and we have received a number of nominations from various stakeholder organisations.

“We are awaiting nomination from the Opposition Leader,” Nandlall said when quizzed by Opposition MPs Roysdale Forde and Ganesh Mahipaul.

The building on Middle Street was rented since 2022 at an initial cost of $750, 000 but Nandlall said the rent has since increased to $1 million per month.

And while the Commission was never established to use the building it housed public hearings for both the 2020 Elections COI and the Mahdia Dorm Fire COI.

“Soon after this budget we shall move to appoint the Constitutional Reform Commission,” Nandlall continued to assure.

It was at the beginning of January that the government dispatched letters for nominees to the Constitutional Reform Commission to be submitted.

The opposition APNU+AFC said immediately after that they had begun the process of selecting their nominees.

In August 2022, the Constitution Reform Commission Bill, which seeks the establishment of a Constitution Reform Commission to review the country’s supreme laws, was passed.

Members of the Commission shall be appointed by the President and will include five members of the PPP/C, four members of the APNU+AFC, one member each from the ANUG, the Guyana Bar Association, the Labour Movement, the National Toshao’s Council, the private sector, representatives of women organisations, youth organisations, Christian, Hindu and Muslim organisations, as well as nominee representing farmers.

Details of the Bill state that the commission will review the constitution to provide for the current and future rights, duties, liabilities, and obligations of the Guyanese people.

It is mandated for that purpose to receive, consider and evaluate submissions for the alteration of the constitution, and report its recommendations to the standing committee for transmission to the national assembly.

In conducting the review, the commission will consider the full protection of the fundamental rights of and freedom of Guyanese under law, the rights of indigenous people of Guyana, the rights of children, eliminating discrimination in all forms, improving ethnic relations while promoting ethnic security and equal opportunity.

The commission will also, among other things, implement reforms relating to elections and the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), taking into consideration its composition, method of electing its chairman and members and its jurisdiction over national registration and electoral process.

Government’s model for constitutional reform is laid out in its 2020-2025 manifesto, and promotes the inclusion of all Guyanese in the review process.

The Constitution of Guyana is the highest governing document in Guyana. It came into effect on October 6, 1980, replacing the constitution enacted in 1966 upon its independence from the United Kingdom. Guyana’s Constitution was last amended on August 3, 2000


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