The primacy of the constitution as the supreme law should not be undermined by frequent changes

Dear Editor,

I refer to Mr Sherwood Lowe’s letter published in your issue of Sunday, June 12 concerning the name of this country – is it the Co-operative Republic of Guyana or the Republic of Guyana? In answer to Mr Lowe’s concern – and there may be other persons similarly concerned – the position is that, despite the decision taken during the constitutional review process undertaken in the post 1992 era, Article 1 of the 1980 Constitution which declared Guyana to be a state in the course of transition from capitalism to socialism and to be known as “the Co-operative Republic of Guyana” remains unchanged, unaffected by the decision or recommendation arising out of the constitutional review process undertaken in the post 1992 era.

In a subsequent letter published in your newspaper, Mr Lowe informed your readers that he was advised that the change of name can only be effected by the process of parliamentary approval followed by approval by a referendum of eligible voters. Similarly, the process of a referendum is required for the alteration of Article 2 which declares the territory of Guyana. The importance of this to our nation in the context of our borders can be readily appreciated by your readers.

In his letter, Mr Lowe refers to constitutional reform and, in particular, to Article 119A of the Constitution which provides for the National Assembly to establish a Parliamentary Committee for Constitutional Reform for the purpose of continually reviewing the effectiveness of the working of the constitution and making periodic reports thereon to the National Assembly with proposals for reform as necessary.

On enquiry, it is revealed that the Parliamentary Committee has not as yet been established and, therefore, there are no reports with proposals for the reform of the constitution.

It is a matter for conjecture as to the methodology to be adopted whenever the committee begins to function in order to fulfil its constitutional mandate. Laudable as the intent of Article 119A of the constitution may seem, in seeking to ensure that the constitution remains relevant and responds to national goals and aspirations, in my opinion, it must, nevertheless, be recognized that the primacy of, and respect for, the constitution as the supreme law of Guyana should not be affected or undermined by frequent changes as a result of the functioning of the proposed Standing Committee, notwithstanding that amendments duly adopted will form part of the revised or amended constitution.

Yours faithfully,
Brynmor Pollard

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