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Dr. Alexis presents draft Constitution to House Speaker

Dr. Alexis presents draft Constitution to House Speaker

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If the new draft constitution becomes law in November, it will be a “gigantic” step and will take this nation’s independence a step further.{{more}}

This is the view of Dr Francis Alexis, chairman of the three-man drafting committee, which last Thursday, April 30th, presented the draft of this country’s new constitution to Speaker of the House of Assembly Hendrick Alexander.

Dr Hamid Ghanny of Trinidad and Tobago and Vincentian Parnell Campbell QC were the other members of the drafting committee.

Speaking exclusively to SEARCHLIGHT after the brief handing over ceremony, Dr Alexis said that the new constitution easily “creates a watermark for constitutional development, not only for the Eastern Caribbean…but for the international market.”

Dr Alexis, a veteran attorney who has served as Grenada’s Attorney General, hailed the proposal of an Executive President to replace the British Monarchy as the Head of State and the mixed system of parliamentary representation as crucial to nation development.

He said that the removal of the British Monarchy as the Head of State will have “psychological, sociological and cultural significance.”

“You can never cultivate significant respect for yourself as a people, when you continue to have as your Head of State someone from outside – considering the history of slavery, neo-colonialism…” he told SEARCHLIGHT.

Dr Alexis expressed excitement about the “unique” proposal of having a House of Assembly made up of representatives who win the various constituencies and others based on the popular vote; one representative for every 10 per cent of the votes gained by the various parties.

He said that this concept was being touted as “a more genuine representation” by the Dean of the Faculty of Law of the University of the West Indies, Dean Simon McIntosh, when he delivered a speech recently in Grenada.

He told SEARCHLIGHT that despite his many achievements in life, the privilege of working on the constitution is clearly “the icing” on the cake of his career.

During his brief address at the handing over, Dr Alexis called the handing over of the document a very significant moment in the process of constitutional review.

Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hendrick Alexander said that he is pleased to receive the document, as “we come to the culmination of the process.”

Next on the agenda is the first reading of the bill to adopt the new draft constitution, which is scheduled for May 21st.

This will be followed by three months of public awareness and discussion, after which there will be a second reading, debate, and vote on it.

Once the bill is passed by a two-thirds majority in parliament, the constitution will be put to the vote of the electorate in November. If two-thirds of those who vote, say yes, a new constitution will be ushered in as the supreme law of the land.

While Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and his government, along with former Attorney General, now head of the Constitutional Review Steering Committee, Parnell Campbell QC, have pledged to see the new constitution become law, Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace has pledged to fight against it and to urge the electorate to vote, no!

Eustace has said that he is concerned about several issues including the non-imposition of term limits on the office of Prime Minister.

He said he will over the course of the next few months, elaborate on these issues.

“These issues for us are central and I am not prepared to give in on them…I am not going to just follow Ralph Gonsalves,” he told SEARCHLIGHT in an interview about a month ago.

Gonsalves has repeatedly accused the Opposition Leader of playing politics with the process.

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