House approves motion for Select Committee

by Michelle Elphage
Guyana Chronicle
August 10, 1999

POLITICAL parties yesterday unanimously approved a motion for a parliamentary Special Select Committee to consider the Report presented to the House by the Constitution Reform Commission (CRC).

Parliamentary Affairs Minister and Leader of the House, Mr Reepu Daman Persaud said the motion followed informal consultations with the parties on the way forward for the Constitution Reform process.

"Guyana has a climate for working together," Persaud told members, while outlining step-by-step, the approach to the Report being handed in to the National Assembly last month.

He said it was important to note the dates of each aspect of the process to show the speed with which the Government moved in advancing the system.

The motion expressed "grateful thanks" to the Chairman, Secretary, members and staff of the Constitution Reform Commission for the Report presented to the special Select Committee on July 17 and tabled in the house less than a week later.

It also refers the Report to a special Select Committee which is mandated to report back to the National Assembly by October 31.

Persaud told the Chronicle that he will be moving to have the Committee of Selection convened as soon as possible so that the Select Committee could be named.

Mr Winston Murray of the People's National Congress (PNC) rose to support the motion, noting that this could be the beginning of a serious effort to bring about a reformed Constitution.

"For many, many Guyanese there is need for visible and significant movement in the area of Constitutional Reform," Murray stressed.

He said now is the right opportunity for the political parties to successfully draft a new Constitution keeping in mind the January 2000 elections.

Murray said the time-frame set for the Select Committee to report back to the Parliament serves to have the process move expeditiously.

The rationale behind the Select Committee is to clear-up misunderstandings and make further recommendations to the Parliament.

Both leader of The United Force (TUF), Mr Manzoor Nadir and Alliance For Guyana (AFG), Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, supported the motion.

Roopnaraine said though, that there should be no underestimation of the work the Select Committee will have to face.

The 20-man Constitution Reform Commission sworn in on January 22 by President Janet Jagan was given a July 17 deadline to present its report to Parliament, as provided for in two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) brokered "peace" agreements signed last year between the governing People's Progressive Party Civic (PPP/Civic) and the main opposition PNC.

The agreements were signed by President Jagan and PNC leader, Mr Desmond Hoyte, amid rising tensions and violence sparked by anti-government street protests.

Fresh elections are projected by 2001, 18 months after the presentation of the report.

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