Presidential immunity necessary to carry out functions of office – Ramotar
“Our Constitution is probably superior to many in the world”
“Our Constitution is probably superior to many Constitutions in the world.”
This is the opinion of Presidential Candidate of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Donald Ramotar, who stresses that the current Constitution of Guyana was unanimously approved, and a President requires certain immunities given the nature of the job.
Ramotar made the pronouncements yesterday during a press briefing at the Party’s Robb Street Headquarters, Freedom House.
He explained that the PPP had a problem with the 1980 Constitution which placed enormous power in the hands of the Executive President.
“The one big problem that the PPP had with Executive Presidency in the 1980 Constitution… which we have been on record on that issue from the very moment that the 1980 Constitution was promulgated, was that there was one power that the President had that we don’t think any President should have had, and that is the power to prorogue Parliament even if the President is under investigation.”
According to Ramotar, that was the main problem that his party had with the Constitution.
He told media operatives that they had promised to change the Constitution and remove that clause, “and we did…we lived up to it and removed that clause.”
The Presidential Candidate said that there is currently a great deal of misconception as it relates to the Constitution.
He recalled that there was extensive consultation prior to the reform of the Constitution adding, “I would say we have a new Constitution …this is not the 1980 Constitution.”
Ramotar said that the reform process started in 1994, but was delayed because the People’s National Congress Reform did not want to participate in the work of that commission.
He asserted that following the 1997 elections, his party embarked on a complete review of the Constitution, with a view to making a number of amendments, spending more than a billion dollars in that process, “in which we went to every single corner of this country.”
He emphasised that a new Constitution was taken to Parliament following the 2001 elections and was unanimously passed.
As it relates to the holder of the Office of the President, Ramotar told media operatives that taken in a general sense, “the President of the Republic of Guyana does not have more powers than any of the other Presidents in the world.”
Speaking about immunity that is bestowed upon the President, Ramotar said some of the immunities can be looked at, but stressed that in all of the Constitutions across the world there is some immunity that presidents, “will have and have to have because of the nature of the office that they hold.”
He said that to carry out the functions of the Office of the President some immunity must be there to prevent hindrance of the work of the President.
Ramotar promised to seek advice on some of the immunities as it relates to being in and out of Office.