A call for constitutional change is a “slap in the face of Guyanese” because they were the ones who agreed on the present Constitution, General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Clement Rohee said on Monday at a press conference at the party’s headquarters.
He stated that the party has taken note of recent public statements that the Constitution is “backward”, which were “indeed a slap in the faces of Guyanese and all their representatives…” who spent countless hours drafting an acceptable constitution.
Rohee stated that unlike the 1980 “Burnham Constitution,” which he described as an imposition by the then government, the present Constitution came into existence after nationwide consultations.
He said even though the Constitution is being branded as backward it is one of the most advanced constitutions in the Caribbean. “…which is a far cry from what was described as a messy horrible 17th Century Constitution,” he said.
He noted that a constitution here could not be amended unless there is a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, and consequently constitutions were not meant to be subjected to “open heart” surgeries merely because of political disagreements and issues of governance or because of the powers of a head of state.
He said some constitutions were over a 100 years old and Guyana’s present, reformed constitution was a “mere” 13 years old.
He further stated that recommendations from the public concerning the powers of the President to be limited were not ignored.
He said it was not correct to say that the framers of the Constitution ignored the suggestions but it was what the people agreed.
However, he said the people will have to decide whether they want constitutional change.
He also reiterated the party’s call to have Gecom ensure all mechanisms are in place to hold free and fair elections next year.
He said the PPP was requesting that Gecom ensured that all polling places were verified and approved in a timely manner so as to minimize last-minute changes.
He said the party was imploring the government to engage the international community to lend support to Gecom and the electoral process for free and fair elections, and also to invite reputable international organizations to send observers.