Gov’t submits proposal for constitutional reform commission – AG

opposition a ‘no show’ at Parliamentary Standing Committee

The government has tabled its proposal for the establishment of a constitutional reform commission, despite the Opposition’s ‘no show’ at the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Constitutional Reform on Friday.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, S.C, M.P, said the government submitted that the constitutional reform commission be established by law, and that its members be appointed by the president.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, S.C

Fifty percent of the membership shall be selected from the government and the opposition, while the other 50 percent will be drawn from civil society organisations, including the labour movement and the private sector, the Guyana Bar Association, as well as religious, farmers, women and youth organisations.

Those basic provisions, the AG said, will be crafted into a bill, after which consequential provisions will be added to ensure that the commission is able to discharge its mandate.

The terms of reference will be established; the financial arrangement will be established in the bills, as well as how the procedure of the commission will unfold,” he said.

Minister Nandlall added, “Those issues we will have to decide upon in the committee, and of course taken to our respective principals for approval because the bill will be in draft form. Hopefully, we find consensus and we can push the process forward.”

The Attorney General, who also serves as Chairman of the Committee, stated that the opposition is yet to submit its proposal.

He noted that the government has a mandate to fulfill to the people of Guyana, and therefore, it will forge ahead with the work of the committee.

“Since April of this year, it was agreed that the government and the opposition will bring their proposals to the committee. I indicated since then that our position in clear as stated in the manifesto,” he told the Department of Public Information in an interview.

When the meeting was called at the Parliament Buildings on Friday, no Opposition member was present. One member eventually joined virtually and did not offer any contribution to the meeting. He subsequently left before the meeting’s conclusion.

Further to that, moments before the meeting was called, opposition members sent excuses that they are unavailable to attend the session. It must also be noted that only one opposition member attended the meeting back in April. 

Minister Nandlall said because it is a constitutional reform process which requires a particular majority to have constitutional amendments effected, it is expected that the government and the opposition will work together.

“The opposition has shown demonstrably on other areas that they are not prepared to discharge the mandate of their responsibilities,” he affirmed while noting instances of its refusal to participate in the process. 

The Attorney General noted that the government accords constitutional reform high priority in its legislative agenda.