Constitution commission did not rise to the occasion -WPA

Stabroek News
July 30, 1999

The Working People's Alliance (WPA) is very critical of the recommendations for amending the constitution produced by the Constitution Reform Commission.

In a statement it issued on Monday, the WPA said that "the Constitution Commission failed to take the bull by the horns, failed to face facts."

It observed that "in its opinion, the Constitution did not rise to the occasion and did not do what was expected of it."

"There was a splendid chance of crafting a constitution which took into account Guyana's recurring problems of holding together. The Commission, weighted as it was, recognised only recommendations which could claim not to be new, not to be original, whereas Guyana needed an original structure suited to its problem."

It noted that all the proposals "which tampered with the form of the state basing the argument on the nature of our divisions and conflicts, were thrown out or treated as quaint and curious by Euro-centred descendants of enslaved Africans and indentured Indians."

"Despite the inclusiveness promised on the basis of what the PNC recommended, there is the one-party cabinet defended by both the PPP and the PNC, the same two major political agencies which have been the centre of confrontation for nearly half a century."

The WPA noted that three main recommendations for rearranging state power were proposed and strangely all were booted out by the Commission. These proposals included a plural presidency proposed by the WPA in 1997 and a federal arrangement, but the WPA said in their place were put "band aids of the Bill of Rights backed by courts and commissions, which are good in any state of things but go nowhere to solve our more explosive problems."

It urged the National Assembly not to erase the improvements made in the Commission "but must go beyond the Commission in changing a system which has given rise to insecurity."

The WPA co-leader, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, was a member of the Commission representing the Alliance for Guyana, the coalition with the Guyana Labour Party and a Citizens' Group formed to contest the 1997 elections.

Contacted for a comment, Dr Roopnaraine said that it was now for the WPA to mobilise public opinion in favour of the proposals it would like to see the National Assembly adopt.

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