Wednesday, 16 July 2014

POTENTIAL POLL? – Constitution referendum proposed for February 10, 2015

By Linda Straker

Grenadians could be going to the polls in seven months, not to change its Government, but to change its Constitution, which was handed down from Great Britain when the island gained Independence on February 7, 1974.

Addressing Tuesday morning’s weekly post-Cabinet briefing, Legal Affairs Minister Elvin Nimrod said that the Constitution Reform Advisory Committee has submitted its initial report to the Cabinet following weeks of consultations throughout the island and these members will now examine the proposal with a view for having the referendum poll on February 10, 2015.

He said that 25 areas were recommended for change, but focus will only be on 12 in the first instance.

“High on the list is the issue of Grenada joining the Caribbean Court of Justice as its final appellate court,” said the Legal Affairs Minister, who has already expressed his strong support for the new justice system.

“We believe it’s time to find our own wings to fly,” he said.

Another area of priority is the inclusion of the names Grenadine islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique on the passport. These islands are governed by Grenada, but the names are not spelt out on the passport. Over the years, there has been continuous advocacy for and against inclusion of the names on the passport.

Also on the priority list are the suggestions to changing the oath of allegiance to Grenada instead of the Queen of England; changing the title of Chief of Police to Commissioner of Police; and establishing an Electoral Commission instead of having a Supervisor of Elections.

“We, the people of Grenada, will ultimately decide what we want with this process,” said Attorney General, Cajeton Hood, who shared the briefing with Nimrod.

According to the regulations in the Constitution, any amendment or for Grenada to adopt a new constitution, there must be a referendum that involves two-thirds of the voting population and parliamentarians.

Earlier this year, Cabinet appointed a 15-member Constitution Reform Advisory Committee, whose task was to review work already done with regards to Grenada adopting a new constitution and at the same time have consultations with people, so that recommendations can be proposed with regards to the wish of the population.

Headed by former Attorney General and Constitutional lawyer, Dr. Francis Alexis, the Committee had sessions throughout villages and communities to hear the desires and wishes of the people. The 25 recommendations were based on the discussions and suggestions from these consultations.

Governor General, Dame Cecile La Grenade, in delivering the traditional Throne Speech for the Opening of the Second Session of the Ninth Parliament last year, said that as Grenada celebrates its 40th year of Independence from Great Britain, having a review at this time is quite appropriate.

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