Constitution committee to take twin-track approach

Guyana Chronicle
January 21, 2000

THE Oversight Committee on Constitutional Reform is to adopt a twin-track approach in dealing with electoral reform and the drafting of the new constitution.

Chairman of the Committee, Mr Moses Nagamootoo yesterday told the Chronicle that Leader of Government Business in Parliament, Mr Reepu Daman Persaud is consulting political parties and various interest groups to identify members for the task forces that will function under the Oversight Committee.

He explained that there are 23 recommendations coming out of the Constitution Reform Commission and agreed to by the Parliamentary Select Committee which will be dealt with by the task forces.

These groups, drawn from the political parties and civic society, will be headed by members of the Oversight Committee.

However, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon and People's National Congress (PNC) representative, Mr Vincent Alexander are responsible for Local Government, the Elections Commission and the electoral system.

Nagamootoo said his group will look at the Presidency, Parliament and National Security, while another group headed by leader of The United Force (TUF), Mr Manzoor Nadir will deal with recommendations on Fundamental Rights, Gender Education, among others.

Dr Rupert Roopnaraine of the Alliance For Guyana (AFG) will head a group dealing with the Preamble to the Constitution, the economy and finance and land and the environment and Dr Leslie Ramsammy, of the People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/Civic) will head another group that will look at the Judiciary, Commissions and Race Relations.

Nagamootoo promised that the Oversight Committee will meet as soon as the task forces have been identified.

"A meeting would be scheduled shortly after to agree on the work plan for the respective task forces," he assured.

He added that the committee has not agreed to a time-bound plan for its work yet, but he hopes that can be done at the next meeting.

The Chairman has also written Speaker and Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr Derek Jagan and Mr Frank Narain, respectively, to request the use of the Parliament Chambers for further meetings of the committee.

Nagamootoo said they also plan to use the secretariat that was available to the Constitution Reform Commission.

Parliament last month approved the establishment of an oversight committee to prepare a plan for drafting constitutional revision and guiding the implementation of recommendations for constitution reform.

All parties supported the motion moved by Persaud, which also adopted the Report of the Special Select Committee on Constitution Reform.

The committee is charged with:

* preparing for the approval of the Assembly, a time-bound plan for the drafting of constitutional revision;

* overseeing and guiding the implementation of the recommendations of the Report of the Special Select Committee; and

* submitting monthly progress reports to the Assembly.

According to the motion, the committee will be required to give priority to the establishment and functioning of separate task forces mandated to pursue the reform of the electoral system and the establishment of an Ethnic Relations Commission.

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