The PPP should take some credit for the present constitution

Dear Editor,

Mr Adams in a letter captioned ‘Not a PPP constitution’(SN, Feb 19) did a poor job at commenting on Dr Henry Jeffrey’s article. Mr Adams’ penchant for focusing on the trvial caused him to miss the salient point that was being made by Dr Jeffrey. The point is Guyana is not governed by the 1980 constitution.

In the constitutional reform process that occurred pursuant to the Herdmanston Accord, the constitution was changed by all the parties in the National Assembly at the time. Interestingly, the PPP was not disposed to reduce the power of the President which they criticised while in opposition.

It is important to note that during the constitutional reform process, the PPP/C was not only in power and had the power to make deep-rooted changes to the constitution, they were the most powerful actor in that process. Unfortunately, the PPP resented deep-rooted changes and only agreed to changes that suited them.

The extant constitution is therefore in the main a constitution with the imprint of the PPP. It is no longer the Burnham constitution. The PPP should take some credit.  Let’s call it the Burnham-Hoyte-Jagdeo constitution.

May I remind Mr Adams that the PPP boasts about the present constitution and contends that it is the most advanced in the Caribbean. Clearly, in the PPP’s mind it is their constitution.  I will not fight over the PPP’s claim for they are the breachers in chief of the constitution, and their very action makes Guyana a place where the relevance of a constitution diminishes daily.

But does it matter whose constitution it is?  Guyana needs constitutional reform to develop laws that will prevent the abuse of power regardless of which political party is in power.  One thing history has shown us is that we must not trust man with power for the songs they sing in opposition change while in government and vice versa.

Mr Adams must at a minimum get his facts right. There was no campaign to vote for the house and not the mouse in 1980.  If it is the referendum he is referring to, that year was 1978.

Yours faithfully,
Aubrey C Norton



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