AFC can succeed with constitutional change if it makes that its immediate goal

Dear Editor,

This relates to your editorial `Constitutional reform’ (Oct 28) with reference to Mr. Ralph Ramkarran’s column calling on the AFC to leave the government and demand or promote constitutional change. This is not likely to happen; the AFC is sweetened with power and perks of office. But the AFC can succeed with constitutional change if it makes that its immediate goal. APNU would go along with constitutional change if AFC pushes it.  And supporters of both parties want constitutional reform as I found in my recent movements around the country.  The business community in particular endorses Mr. Ramkarran’s idea of constitutional reform.

Mr. Ralph Ramkarran seems to be in touch with the political sentiments on the ground on the need for constitutional reform. Everywhere I traveled since October 20, the sentiments on the ground is for constitutional changes. People are disappointed with the APNU+AFC coalition government in failing to honour its manifesto on the immediate replacement of the Burnham constitution. Politicians make promises which they fail to upkeep causing people to be turned off from politics. In light of the experience over the last 40 months, people say they no longer trust political parties and want to exercise greater powers over politicians. They want a constitution that empowers them rather than the government or distrustful politicians.

Mr. Ramkarran is right on eroding support for the AFC. The AFC is likely to be decimated in the local elections. The party should announce now that it will support constitutional reform. This will allow it to redeem some goodwill and support at the local elections.

In short, people say they want to replace the Burnham constitution, or shrink powers of the central government, and or empower local bodies, and or allow for political coalition post elections.  Mr. Ramkarran is right that the AFC is in a position to make constitutional reform happen. Such reform would be best for the country allowing for a real coalition or sharing of powers.

Yours faithfully,

Dr. Vishnu Bisram

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