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Sir James chides NDP for abandoning review process

Sir James chides NDP for abandoning review process


Former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell returned to the political hustings this week after a near ten-year absence to save Vincentians and their Constitution from crucifixion.{{more}}

In a spirited address to supporters of the opposition New Democratic Party on Tuesday night at NDP headquarters in Kingstown, Sir James said while he supported the constitution reform process, he was far from satisfied with the outcome.

At the same time he criticised his own party for not sticking with the review process and filing a minority report for the record.

He, the former prime minister, stressed that his larger purpose was to throw his support behind the efforts of the NDP to convince Vincentians to vote “no” when a referendum is held on November 25.

“I have been keeping my silence,” said Sir James, “but I don’t want to keep silent on this issue. I am not going to be silent when they crucify the Constitution and the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

Sir James’ presence at the launch of the “no” vote compaign is expected to assist the NDPs drive for momentum in the lead up to the referendum.

The 78-year-old, who led St. Vincent for more than 17 years, hit the ground running as he took the podium after current party leader Arnhim Eustace, delivering an hour-and-15-minute-long address to a crowd of several hundred.

“I have no confidence that the new constitutional proposals will enhance the quality of life for Vincentians. In fact, I think they will build up our hopes but set another framework for frustration.

“A new constitution should address the problems with which we have been encumbered since Independence, and provide better governance.”

While acknowledging that there were problems with the existing Constitution and its operation and supporting the need for constitutional review and reform, Sir James said that he considered it prudent to explain why he intended to vote “no” in November.

“First of all, I am pleased that the exercise of constitutional reform has been undertaken, as I would like to see certain institutions modernised. However, as I advocated in the 2002 proposal, if better can’t be done, let worse continue.

“A whole history of civilisation is in the legacy granted to us by the British and we have to be careful how we tamper with it.”

He advised Vincentians not to sacrifice justice on the altar of anti colonialism.

“We cannot afford to take a chance,” Sir James said. “It makes no sense to abandon a system of justice, tried and tested, when it costs us nothing. It boils down to our individual confidence and finally to confidence in our country.”

Sir James lamented the fact that his party had withdrawn from the constitutional reform process years ago.

“My position would have been to carry on to the end and file my own minority judgment. This way, the government would have been forced to publish Opposition opinion alongside the revised final report, and thus establish a moral clarity among the issues.”