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Three small parties to push for constitutional reform with one seat

Last Updated on Wednesday, 5 August 2020, 15:12 by Denis Chabrol

By Samuel Sukhnandan

As the three small political parties continue to work out finer details of their plan to share the one-seat they obtained through a joinder list at the March elections, representatives want to reassure Guyanese that they will be pushing for meaningful constitutional reform.

Liberty and Justice Party’s (LJP) Lennox Shuman told a press conference on Tuesday that it is no secret that there is grave unwillingness from every major political party in Guyana to undertake meaningful constitutional reform, even though international election observers like the Carter Center have called for that.

Shuman, a former deputy for the National Toshao Council, said it is not up to the new People’s Progressive Party (PPP) government to get constitutional reform at the top of their agenda, especially since “they are now in the driver’s seat.”

“What we have to do is agitate as much as we can to ensure that that is realised. We also have to sit with the opposition and ensure that whatever pressure comes, that there isn’t an excuse so that when we are sitting in 2025 constitutional reform does not become another empty promise,” he added.

The LJP leader reminded that constitutional reform was promised in 2011, 2015 and 2020 but very little was done to push for this to happen.

“At some point, the people have to hold them accountable and the only way you hold a government accountable, is through that single vote that we fought so hard for to ensure that it is respected over the last five months. And that’s the only thing holding them accountable.”

Supporting those views were The New Movement leader Dr. Asha Kissoon who explained that the problem doesn’t lie in getting the groundwork set, but enforcing the tools available. She reminded that a committee was set up to deal with that and it should now be reactivated and enforced.

“It has been a broken record. For so many years they have campaigned on constitutional reform and we haven’t seen it. So, yes the three parties are in agreement and we will be pushing for it, Dr. Kissoon told the press at Tuesday’s press conference as well.

Meanwhile, A New and United Guyana (ANUG) representative Johnathan Yearwood noted that his party had campaigned on the promise to push for constitutional reform and it will within its limited power in Parliament advocate for this to happen.

He reminded that it was ANUG’s 2020 presidential candidate and former House Speaker Ralph Ramkarran who had worked on a document that proposed constitutional reform back in 2000, and former Alliance for Change (AFC) chairman Nigel Hughes had done a similar proposal in 2015.

“These documents are probably sitting on some shelf in some ministry gathering dust…We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. What we need to do is to pull these reports and tweek them to the situation today and this current election has shown some highlights that need to be changed and enforced,” Yearwood remarked.

The ANUG representative said this is not a case where Members of Parliament have to go into major consultation, it would only require all parties agreeing to move forward.

The LJP, ANUG and TNM said that if they were to go according to votes received, it would mean the LJP would be serving in Parliament for 2 years and 5 months, ANUG for 2 years and 4 months, and TNM for 80 days. The parties however plan to review this before the 12th Parliament.

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