All set for constitution reform report today

Stabroek News
July 17, 1999

The Constitutional Reform Commission (CRC) yesterday formally adopted the report it will present to the chairman of the Special Select Committee on Constitution Reform, Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Reepu Daman Persaud, in Parliament Chambers today at 4 pm.

The ceremony at Parliament will be a short one with remarks by Commission chairman, Ralph Ramkarran SC and Persaud. The ceremony will be followed by a reception to be hosted by the Commission at the Park Hotel where most of its meetings were held.

The last "i" was dotted and the last "t" crossed on Thursday when the CRC completed its review of the recommendations it had made for amendments to the constitution under which elections are scheduled to be held by January 2001.

In remarks at what was the 77th and final meeting of the Commission, Ramkarran thanked the members of the Commission and the media for contributing to the successful completion of its work.

Ramkarran, who said that he had been initially reluctant to take on the task of chairing the commission because of the other responsibilities he had, said that he had found the task rewarding, especially his working relationship with the commission secretary, Haslyn Parris.

He said too that the Commission worked only because it did not operate on the basis of partisan positions, partisan activities and the desire to impose and impress partisan views.

Ramkarran also observed that one lesson which the members of the Commission would have learnt would have been the value of discussion.

He observed that he had sensed a great enthusiasm among the Guyanese people for what was a historic project, explaining that there was a lot of productive intellectual activity which went on in the smallest villages among the least sophisticated of our people talking about matters of constitutional reform.

"I don't really think that if we had more time and we had consulted more people that we would have got materially more than we actually got."

He also praised the work of the rapporteurs, writers and the editor of the report, Andaiye, whom he said had made completion of the report possible.

About the presence of the media, Ramkarran said that besides informing the nation about the work of the commission, its very presence had "immeasurably helped the process and elevated the standard of the debate".

Earlier, the commissioners led by Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, Vidyanand Persaud, Deryck Bernard and Bernard De Santos, praised Ramkarran's chairmanship, Parris' work, which they said made the completion of the report possible and the leadership the two gave as a result of their cooperation.

Private sector representative, Ramdial Bhookmohan, said that the way the commission worked should be emulated in other spheres of national life.

Youth representative, Faizal Jaffarally and the farmers' representative, Harrichand Mahadeo, as well as the representative of the Amerindian community, described their experience on the Commission as very informative and enriching.

Randolph Kirton, who represented the trade union movement, also joined the expression of admiration for the work of Ramkarran and Parris.

The commission which began its work in late January, was mandated by legislation to make recommendations to the National Assembly for the amendment of the constitution after consulting the public and perusing the memoranda it inherited from the Select Committee on Constitution Reform established by the Sixth Parliament.

The reform of the Constitution is one of the menu of measures of the Herdmanston Accord, signed on January 18, 1998 designed to assist in helping to return Guyana to normalcy.

The 20-member commission comprised representatives of civic society and the political parties represented in the National Assembly.

A © page from:
Guyana: Land of Six Peoples