Articles

Fri 10th Apr 2009

Proposed new constitution is a kiss of death

The main tenets of the proposed new SVG Constitution are:

  • we should have a head of state who is a Vincentian national and terminate the British monarchy to complete the process of national independence;
  • we should terminate the Privy Council and adopt the Caribbean Court of Justice;
  • the need for a national advisory council of elders;
  • the wide powers of the Prime Minister are too powerful under the Westminster style of Government.

The main component of democracy is adult suffrage - one man, one vote - which came into effect in 1951. The main weakness of the proposed new constitution is that it takes away the right of the masses to vote for the head of state. One has to be a member of the elitist group to be able to vote.

Under this new constitution, the head of state is elected by the membership of the National assembly from a list of persons recommended by the National Advisory Council of Elders, NACE. In other words, two elite groups will have the ultimate say in who becomes the Head of State with the masses being pushed aside. This proposed system is a 'kiss of death' to adult suffrage. The new constitution should be rejected without any hesitation at the referendum for this blatant omission.

It has always be en argued that we should terminate the Privy Council and similarly the Queen to complete the process of national independence. And, that we should accept the Caribbean Court of Justice, based in Trinidad and Tobago. The Privy Council has always seemed to be fair in its rulings, so the need for retaining it is very apparent.

Under our Westminster model of government, it is said that the powers of the Prime Minister are too far reaching. We strongly believe that one method of curtailing the power of the Prime Minister is to restrict him/her to only two parliamentary terms. Under the new constitution the Prime Minister has unlimited terms. The constitution has not dealt with it effectively. It has failed to limit the Prime Minister to two terms only. Therefore, the constitution should be rejected.

Our core problem is not the need for a new constitution, but our weak economy. We need to work more cohesively as a people to build a strong and sustainable economy. The new constitution will take us in the wrong direction and create deeper social divides, where you have the elites on one hand and non-elites on the other, with the elites having the power.

The ULP regime has lost focus: we need to make the poor richer, provide jobs for the unemployed, reduce crime, provide children with a proper world-class education and create a strong economy for businesses.

The proposed new constitution will not build a strong and sustainable economy. It is designed to make the ULP regime the elites with the power and everyone else the poor, powerless, jobless non-elites. For your dignity, for your family and for democracy it must be rejected when it comes up at the referendum later this year.

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