Gre­na­di­ans re­ject con­sti­tu­tional changes

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE -

ST GE­ORGE’S Gre­nada (CMC): GRE­NA­DI­ANS ON Thurs­day voted over­whelm­ingly to re­ject seven pieces of leg­is­la­tion that would have re­formed the Con­sti­tu­tion the island re­ceived when it at­tained po­lit­i­cal in­de­pen­dence from Bri­tain 42 years ago.

“The peo­ple have spo­ken in a ref­er­en­dum ... and I have ac­cepted it ... and we have to learn from the process ... be­cause it has never been tried be­fore and I think this is what we have to un­der­stand,” Prime Min­is­ter Dr Keith Mitchell said.

The main op­po­si­tion Na­tional Demo­cratic Con­gress (NDC), in a state­ment, said it would hold “an ex­tra­or­di­nary press con­fer­ence” on Fri­day.

The ref­er­en­dum had orig­i­nally been sched­uled for Oc­to­ber 27, but was post­poned for a month to al­low for more pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion and stake­holder con­sul­ta­tion.

WON’T RE­PLACE PRIVY COUN­CIL

But by a vast ma­jor­ity, the vot­ers turned their backs on plans to re­place the Lon­don-based Privy Coun­cil with the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Jus­tice as the island’s fi­nal court, and re­jected term lim­its for the prime min­is­ter and the ap­point­ment of a leader of the op­po­si­tion in Par­lia­ment.

In ad­di­tion, they also re­jected moves to change the name of the tri-island state and plans to es­tab­lish an in­de­pen­dent elec­toral com­mis­sion.

Mitchell, speak­ing on tele­vi­sion, said he was dis­ap­pointed at the low voter turnout and that peo­ple who were re­joic­ing at the re­sults were do­ing so “be­cause they chose to play games with the fu­ture of this country”.

Mitchell said that the bill be­fore the vot­ers had noth­ing to do with him per­son­ally Gre­nada’s Prime Min­is­ter Dr Keith Mitchell

and de­fended also the de­ci­sion of his ad­min­is­tra­tion not to cam­paign openly for a ‘Yes’ vote.

Mitchell said he was at a loss as to why the bill to es­tab­lish an Elec­tions and Bound­aries Com­mis­sion was re­jected when the present sys­tem al­lows for the gov­ern­ment to con­trol the elec­toral process.

“Right now, the present sys­tem gives the gov­ern­ment all the pow­ers. By vot­ing (against it), they have con­tin­ued a process where the gov­ern­ment of the day can have all the in­ter­est it wishes to have in the elec­toral process.

“I be­lieve that this is fun­da­men­tally wrong. My chil­dren and grand­chil­dren of the country must not be left with this,” he said, ask­ing also what was wrong in in­clud­ing the names of Pe­tite Mar­tinique and Car­ri­a­cou as part of the tri-island state.

With 98.9 per cent of the pre­lim­i­nary fig­ures re­leased by the Par­lia­men­tary Elec­tions Of­fice, the big­gest de­feat came in the so-called “pro­mo­tion of gay mar­riage” bill, which Gre­na­di­ans snubbed by an al­most three to one margin.

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