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NDP’s folly on Constitutional Reform

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27.MAR.09

Editor: At long last the Opposition NDP’s bluff on constitutional reform has been called. Their shallow pretense of supporting it has been unmasked. At first, the NDP gave lip-service support, but as the process unfolded towards finality, the party backed away because of this innate backwardness and a knee-jerk reaction to their belief that the ULP had them politically cornered.{{more}}

Several months ago, the NDP gave spurious reasons for opting out of the process. These reasons were never valid, now they are non-existent. So, they now advance two ridiculous reasons to oppose the constitutional reform exercise completely: (1) They want a two-term limit for a Prime Minister and that is not in the draft Constitution and (2) they do not support more seats for Parliament as recommended in the Draft.

First, the current Constitution does not have term limits for the Prime Minister. Thus, the Draft does not change the current Constitution in this regard. Secondly, under the existing Constitution, the number of seats can be increased as Sir James Mitchell’s NDP did in 1989 by increasing the number from 13 to 15 seats. Under the Draft Constitution, the real and meaningful change to enhance democratic representation is the introduction of a proportional representation (PR) element to complement the existing first-past-the-post elections. And the NDP supports this mixed system of PR and first-past-the-post. Under the Draft Constitution, the outdated colonial and undemocratic system of appointing senators would go by the wayside.

The people overwhelmingly demand constitutional reform. They voted for it in 2001 and 2005 elections. A model process of public consultation and civil society involvement was embarked upon. Both the ULP and the NDP argued on the major issues of change in the new Constitution. They now put their perceived party self-interest over that of the nation. Let us see how they would fare in warring against the nation.

Sincerely yours,
Hans King
Press Secretary to the PM

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