Jul 05, 2017 News
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo has announced that a decision was taken by Cabinet to have Constitutional Reform and Consultative Bill laid in the National Assembly before the Parliamentary recess in August.
The Prime Minister, who is at the moment performing the duties of President, made the announcement following a meeting with Cabinet, yesterday afternoon.
A statement released from the Ministry of Presidency yesterday, reiterated Government’s commitment to the cause of Constitutional Reform.
“The Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana remains committed to the process of constitutional reform and has been working steadily to put all the necessary mechanisms and framework in place.”
The statement outlined that the Coalition Government, through the Office of the Prime Minister, set up the Steering Committee on Constitutional Reform (SCCR) which submitted its report to Prime Minister Nagamootoo and the process of the drafting and review of the bill has been ongoing over the past months.
“The Coalition Government views the laying of the Constitutional Reform and Consultative Bill in the National Assembly as a major advancement in the process towards Constitutional Reform,” the release added.
Constitutional reform has been on the cards for the national government since the 1990s. The reform is expected to tackle key issues of the 1980 Constitution.
Matters to be addressed under constitutional reform include sexual orientation, presidential powers and the electoral system, all of which were inherited by Guyana from the post independence era.
During consideration of the 2016 budget, the Prime Minister had disclosed that the process of constitutional reform must forge ahead in 2017 and that various partners including UNDP and UNICEF have assured assistance.
As a preparatory step, a Steering Committee on Constitutional Reform (SCCR) headed by Attorney-at-law, Nigel Hughes was set up on September 1, 2015. The Committee’s report was submitted to the Prime Minister on April 30, 2016 and subsequently laid before Cabinet for studied discussions.
As a result, a Constitutional Reform Consultative Commission Bill was drafted and is set to be laid in National Assembly.
Prime Minister Nagamootoo started talks, on programme support in general, and constitutional reform in particular with the UNDP as far back as July 23, 2015, as noted in the press, when he met with UN Assistant Secretary General and UNDP Regional Director for Latin America, Jessica Faieta, and then UNDP Resident Representative Khadija Musa.
A United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) expert team had visited Guyana to explore how constitutional reform could be realised.
The terms of reference (TOR) between the Government of Guyana, the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Department of Political Affairs (UNDPA) outlines the scope of the constitutional reform needs assessment mission, as follows assess the political environment in Guyana and the legal and institutional framework governing the constitutional reform process; (ii) review past reform processes; (iii) evaluate the interest, capacity and roles of the various civil and political stakeholders in engaging in the constitutional reform process; and (iv) assess the potential role of UNDP-UNDPA in assisting this process and resources required.
The UNDP–UNDPA team sat with a broad base of stakeholders to gain pertinent feedback for the needs of the various civil society actors in the process of constitutional reform.
The Carter Center subsequently, came on board with the Government as a partner in the constitutional reform process.
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