Commissioners vote for native President

by Michelle Elphage
Guyana Chronicle
July 16, 1999

A RECOMMENDATION that the President must be born in Guyana and must reside here a certain number of years before running for the office, is one of the latest motions that has gained majority support of the Constitution Reform Commission.

Twelve members of the 20-man Commission voted for the motion Wednesday. Two Commissioners voted against, while three members abstained.

At several public hearings over a two-month period, proposals had been made that the Head of State must be born in Guyana, and Commissioners agreed that the person must live here continuously for a specified period, previous to running for the Presidency.

The Chronicle learnt yesterday that the Commission will present its report tomorrow at 16:00 hours in Parliament Chamber.

Constitution report to be presented in Parliament Chamber at 16:00 hours tomorrow

Chairman of the Commission Mr Ralph Ramkarran had announced earlier in the week, that the body will present its final report tomorrow at 17:00 hours.

Ramkarran said invitations have already been drafted, but his announcement that the report will be presented at the Park Hotel was met with resistance from some members.

Mr Vincent Alexander of the People's National Congress (PNC) suggested that since the Commission was mandated under the Parliament to do the report, then it is only logical that it should return there for the presentation.

Commissioner for the People's Progressive Party Civic (PPP/Civic) and Leader of the House, Mr Reepu Daman Persaud said the members can have the Parliament chamber if they so desired for the handing over.

Under the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Herdmanston Accord, brokered last year amidst opposition-initiated post elections protests, the Commission was mandated to present a report to Parliament by July 17, recommending changes to the country's 1980 Constitution.

The Commission is required to present the report to the Parliamentary Select Committee under which it was established.

Meanwhile, three of four motions proposed by Dr Rupert Roopnaraine of the Alliance For Guyana (AFG) were struck down by the Commission.

He only received majority support on a proposal that wherever there is to be consultation, as appears in the Constitution, it must be understood to be meaningful consultation.

The AFG representative had proposed that there should be separate voting for a President, but Commissioners voted this down on the grounds that it was unnecessarily complicating for the electoral procedure.

They also voted down suggestions that parties should not have to put up presidential candidates when contesting elections, or that parties, mostly smaller ones, can be allowed to put up a specified number of candidates less than 53.

The Commission is now in the process of going over the final report section, by section, fine-tuning and correcting for presentation tomorrow.

At the Tuesday meeting of the Commission, the Chairman announced that Muslim representative, Mr Shahabudin McDoom had departed Guyana for two months and will be replaced by Mr Kamal Khan.

The Chairman said he intended to write the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana to let the leaders know that they needed to inform the President of this development, since McDoom had been appointed by her.

Khan has not attended any meeting of the Commission this week, since Chronicle understands that he has not yet been sworn in.

A © page from:
Guyana: Land of Six Peoples