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Eustace: Party’s position on new constitution remains unchanged

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If the new constitution becomes law, General Elections will always be held between September and December of the fifth year of any government’s term in office.{{more}}

This was one of the issues decided on when the Committee of the Whole House of Assembly and representatives of the Constitutional Review Steering Committee met twice last week.

The first meeting took place during the sitting of Parliament on Thursday, March 26th, the other on Monday, March 30th.

Among the other outstanding issues on which there were decisions was the make up of the new House of Assembly. It was decided that there will be two additional constituencies taking the number from 15 to 17, while 10 other places will be filled from party lists and the numbers determined by proportional representation.

One seat will be awarded for every 10 per cent of the popular vote. The proportional representation system will replace the senatorial appointments under the current constitution.

Currently, the ruling party appoints four senators while the opposition appoints two.

The decisions that were made at these two meetings will go to the drafting committee, which is led by prominent Grenadian attorney Dr Francis Alexis QC.

The drafting committee, which also includes Trinidadian Dr Hamid Ghany and Parnel Campbell, QC, is expected to complete the first draft of the new constitution by the end of April.

The meetings were also attended by members of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP). This following their decision last July to abandon the Constitution Reform Process – a position they have reiterated several times, despite several calls to rejoin the process by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, among others.

Speaking to SEARCHLIGHT, Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace confirmed that he and his fellow NDP parliamentarians attended the meetings and participated in the discussions.

He, however, made it clear that their attendance doesn’t in any way change his party’s position – and said that he still plans to urge a vote against the new constitution in November’s scheduled referendum.

Eustace said that it was worth remembering that when the committee of the Whole House meets, the government has a built in majority when decisions have to be made.(KJ)