Constitutional reform commission to be appointed after budget proceedings conclude – AG Nandlall

The Constitutional Reform Commission will be appointed by President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali soon.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC, gave the assurance as he answered questions regarding the legal affairs ministry’s $1.8 billion budgetary allocation on Tuesday.

He added that while budget 2023 provided allocations for the establishment of the commission, several factors have hindered its establishment, including the tensions between Guyana and Venezuela concerning the ongoing border controversy.

In the meantime, the Middle Street building which has been rented by the ministry. It was originally intended to house the commission but has been utilised to house the Commissions of Inquiry into the 2020 General and Regional Elections and the fire at the Mahdia dormitory.

“Earnestly, I can safely say that after these budget proceedings are concluded, His Excellency shall move to appoint the constitutional reform commission, and this is the building in which that commission will be housed. It is already furnished and ready for occupation by the secretariat and the commission,” he said.

The Constitutional Reform Act was approved in 2022 and provides for the establishment of the commission, which is expected to lead nationwide engagements on the much-needed process.

The 20-member commission will be drawn from political parties (five from the ruling party and four from the main opposition and one from the ANUG), while 10 will be drawn from religious groupings, the private sector, the Guyana Bar Association, the National Toshaos Council, the labour movement, women’s organisations as well as nominees representing farmers and youths.

Importantly, the AG pointed out that letters have been disseminated for nominations, and while the government has received responses from various stakeholder organisations, they are still awaiting a response from the Leader of the Opposition.

“We have invited the Leader of the Opposition to submit his nominees to be appointed to the commission, and he has until the 10th of February to do so,” he noted.  

The commission is mandated to review the constitution and provide for the current and future rights, duties, liabilities, and obligations of the Guyanese people. As part of this aim, it will receive, consider, and evaluate submissions for the alteration of the constitution, and report its recommendations to the standing committee for transmission to the National Assembly.

Among other functions, this commission is empowered to implement reforms relating to elections and the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), taking into consideration its composition, method of electing its chairman and members, and its jurisdiction over national registration and electoral processes.