RISE plugs constituency voting at constitution reform forum
Newly-formed civil society group RISE Guyana and other speakers at a University of Guyana forum on Thursday called for a return to constituency voting at general elections and there were also appeals for broad consultations on the reform of the constitution. Represented by businessman Terrence Campbell, Reform, Inspire, Sustain and Educate (RISE) argued that while the 1999 Constitution Reform Commission accomplished much, it “erred when it recommended that the electoral system should remain that of proportional representation.” Some constituency voting was introduced for the local government system used for elections held last year. Campbell told the gathering at the Ninth Turkeyen and Tain Talks at the Pegasus Hotel that RISE has had discussions with the man-in-the-street, members of the government, the opposition and Guyanese in the Diaspora which “revealed an overwhelming preference for a return to a constituency-based system.” According to Campbell, such a system would improve accountability and independence since Members of Parliament will need to focus first on representing their constituents rather than serving a political party and party leader. Citing another recommendation from the 1999 Commission, Campbell asked why the involvement of individuals was proposed at the local but not at the national level.