Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on Monday said before his party commences consultations on constitutional reform, President David Granger must assure that any commitment made during the engagements will be “seriously considered” as the PPP/C is not in the business of “wasting time.”
Jagdeo accused the government of not taking the issue of constitutional reform seriously and asserted that it was for that specific reason that Prime Minister Moses Nagmootoo has been placed in charge of the process.
“The president needs to give a commitment that whatever comes out of this body will be seriously considered. We got the impression that they have sent it to Nagamootoo for it to die a healthy death…,” he told a news conference on Monday, while also claiming that anything that “don’t have high priority in government” is funneled to the prime minister.
He said as a serious party, the PPP/C does not want to be “caught wasting time.”
According to Jagdeo, his party has an open mind on the issue and is prepared to participate in a broad-based committee that involves the government, opposition and civil society to examine “if there is further need to amend our constitution. We don’t have a fixed idea, the consultations across Guyana should allow that, the ideas to emerge, because it is what people want that the leaders must reflect in the constitution.”
He also stated that his party does not have a problem with international involvement because experience is needed but he added that the process must be driven by Guyanese in a broad-based committee.
“It was not about Nagamootoo. The person that we expressed reservation on, what we expressed reservation about was the fact that Nagamootoo is a lightweight in the government.
He has no ability to even secure the agreements they signed with APNU,” Jagdeo said in reference to the Cummingsburg Agreement signed between the partners in the governing coalition, the AFC and APNU.
As a result, he questioned whether any commitments made by the prime minister at any meetings would be recognised by the president or APNU.
“That is what we have reservations about, the power, he has no portfolio, he deals with just the information ministry and so that’s it,” Jagdeo added.
Last week, Nagamootoo was asked whether he would remove himself from the process to allow it to move forward in light of the PPP/C’s reservations. However, he said while he is committed to the process, if the PPP/C is not committed there is little he can do.
“I am committed to constitutional reform, I want to see constitutional reform. If they don’t want constitutional reform what do I do?” he questioned. “I would like to see consensus, I would like to see compromise, I would like to see the process move forward and it’s a problem if others don’t want that,” he added.
Nagamootoo further stated that he could not give up his responsibilities “on the foibles of a political dream.”
“Jagdeo cannot determine who is in charge of constitutional reform. He sits in a cloud and he wants to run the government? Come on,” he further said.
“I am saying that I am committed to the process. I am sending things to the Leader of the Opposition.
They have to treat these things on their merit and not treat the person who sent it, that is not the issue,” he stressed.
Constitutional reform was one of the promises in the APNU+AFC campaign manifesto.