Many in civil society feel constitution reform failed them -Alexander
Stabroek News
August 4, 2002

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Many elements in civil society feel that the constitutional reform process was not sufficiently expansive and failed them, and they would now like to see other efforts at inclusive governance, PNC Reform Vice Chairman, Vincent Alexander, who was himself a member of the Constitution Reform Commission, said.

Alexander made the comments while responding to a remark in which Head of the President Secretariat and Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon on Wednesday said that civil society should exert as much pressure and influence to ensure the implementation of the constitutional provisions on shared governance and inclusivity in seeking to resolve the current political impasse in the country.

Speaking to reporters at a PNC Reform press conference held at Congress Place on Friday, Alexander said that "ever since we completed the process of deliberation in relation to constitutional reform, very many elements in society have been failed and [civil society] feels that the reform process was not as expansive as it should have been."

The whole question of inclusive governance, he said, had to be seen in relation to what was unfolding currently in society.

There were lots of elements in civil societies who were saying that the process had not been as conclusive as it should have been and were accusing the PNC and the PPP of excluding others. The PNC Reform, he continued, was "not unresponsive to those views that have been expressed in the wider society."

Briefing the media on the agenda for the upcoming PNC Biennial Congress, Party Chairman Robert Corbin said that one of the broad areas expected to take up much discussion at the congress was adopting strategies to implement the party's ideas on inclusive governance.

Sharing his views on the subject, Corbin said that the current constitutional provision was limited to certain modifications of committees to manage parliament, committees to be appointed by parliament, and representation on certain constitutional bodies. "We have attempted to have some of these bodies appointed... The public is aware of some of the experiences in the attempt to implement only these limited attempts at inclusive governance," he said.

He added that he would not limit the party's focus to what has already been agreed and which, "unfortunately, we have not been able to implement." The whole question of inclusive governance, in the party's opinion, he said, went far beyond the recommendation made so far and the changes which had already been made to the national constitution.

Corbin said that based on the representation the PNC Reform has had from civil society representatives, the focus was not only on the changes already made to the constitution but on the exploration of mechanisms by which Guyanese would feel involved in the decision-making process since the current system of governance was not working.

In terms of the current problems facing Guyana, Corbin said that the PNC Reform had said that they would require a national response. Unfortunately, he said the party was not in the position of government and "therefore we do not have the keys to the solutions to these matters."

He said that much of the movement to a large extent will depend on the attitudes of the government itself which ought to be responsive to these situations. He did not know whether the speeches delivered at the recently held PPP Congress gave any hope in this direction but it was a matter for the public to decide, he said.