Parliament may forego recess

Stabroek News
July 31, 1999

Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Reepu Daman Persaud, has indicated that a recommendation could be made to the National Assembly that it waive its recess in order for consideration of the Constitution Reform Commission's (CRC) report to be expedited.

Representatives of the parliamentary political parties met yesterday and made proposals for dealing with the CRC report, which are to be crystallised at a further meeting on Wednesday.

The parties have agreed, according to Persaud, that following Wednesday's meeting, he would convene a meeting of the National Assembly, where a recommendation would be made for dealing with the report, which could entail the Assembly being convened during the recess.

Persaud said that based on the mood of the meeting yesterday, which he described as being very friendly, he expected that some unanimous position would be arrived at on the recommendation to be put to the National Assembly.

Among the proposals raised was whether or not there should be a debate in the House on the report before it was referred to a Select Committee. Sources have indicated to Stabroek News that one of the preferred ways of dealing with the report would be to have the National Assembly revive the Special Select Committee on Constitutional Reform and to refer the report to it for its consideration.

Among those present at yesterday's meeting were Winston Murray and Raphael Trotman, representing the PNC; Manzoor Nadir representing The United Force (TUF) and Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, the Alliance for Guyana (AFG).

The report was handed to Persaud as chairman of the Special Select Committee on July 17, and he in turn laid it in the National Assembly on July 22.

According to the Herdmanston Accord, which spawned the commission, the National Assembly has 18 months within which to conclude its consideration of the report so that new elections could be held under a reformed Constitution. To ensure that the Herdmanston timetable is kept, the PNC has suggested that Parliament forego its recess so as to consider the report.

The PNC has also written to the PPP/Civic indicating its willingness to meet to discuss the Elections Commission which it had declined to do while the matter was under consideration by the Constitution Reform Commission.

With the commission having completed its deliberations, the PNC believes that the approach to the appointment of the Elections Commission would be guided by those recommendations.

The commission has recommended a permanent Elections Commission, which would be responsible for all aspects of the electoral process including national registration. It has recommended too that the chairman would be expected to serve full time and is to be appointed through a consensual process.

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