The impetus for constitutional reform has been lost

Dear Editor,

The following is a statement made by Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, quoted in a Stabroek News article of November 19, 2016.

“We went into the election and we promised constitutional reform. The AFC was foremost in its advocacy for certain changes to be made to our constitution to make it more people-friendly, if I may say that. Also, to open up the door for greater consultative democracy and participation by all stakeholders, including opposition political parties, in the process of governance and we have not recoiled from that position,”

Some fifteen months later constitutional reform seems to all but have disappeared from the administration’s agenda.  To recap –

– September 2015- A Steering Committee on Constitutional Reform was established by Prime Minister Nagamootoo.

– April 2016 – A Report (The Hughes Report) ‘Framework for Constitutional Reform’ was presented to Prime Minister Nagamootoo by the Steering Committee on Constitutional Reform. (The report is not available in the public domain).

– February 2017 – A Constitutional Assessment Team from the United Nations Development Team and the United Nations Department of Political Affairs conducted a Constitutional Assessment Mission to Guyana. Their findings are contained in a report dated March 6, 2017

– July 2017- Draft legislation establishing the Constitutional Reform Consultative Commission was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Constitution Reform for consideration and report.

– September 2017- At the Turkeyen Tain Talks 9 held at the Pegasus Hotel Minister Trotman in response to a question informed the audience that the Constitutional Reform Commission Bill would be considered as a matter of priority in October 2017 at the resumption of Parliament in that month.

– February 2018- In the absence of information to the contrary the process appears to have stalled.

RISE Guyana is concerned that the impetus for constitutional reform has been lost, that the coalition government, now in power, has no desire to proceed with the reforms they acknowledged were vital to promoting greater consultative democracy.  This does not bode well for our fragile democracy.

Yours faithfully,
Jainarine Singh
Terrence Campbell
Nadia Sagar
Marcel Gaskin
Luana Falconer
For RISE Guyana


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