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Do not postpone the Referendum!

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28.AUG.09

Editor: I do not support the call by a few letter-writers to the newspapers and by some on the radio programmes to postpone the holding of the referendum on the new Constitution which we are being told is due sometime in November 2009.{{more}}

Since February 2003, the process for constitutional reform was launched. The public consultations by the broad-based Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) have been extensive and thorough. The consultations were done live on radio. There have been several debates in Parliament on the issue of the new Constitution; and these were broadcast live on radio, too. The newspapers and radio stations have been involved in the public discussion. Basically, anyone who wants to know about the new Constitution would know the main new things in it. For over six years, the people of SVG, at home and abroad, have been more than informed about the new Constitution. We have had the best process ever for such an exercise anywhere in the region or elsewhere.

Currently, the members of the House of Assembly are meeting in Committee with the Drafting Committee and the members of the Constitutional Review Steering Committee (CRSC). They are fine-tuning the draft Constitution. The government and opposition parliamentarians are hard at work on this together. They have been considering, too, written submissions made by many nationals and some persons have been invited to address the Committee in Parliament. I believe that all the politicians and the CRSC are taking all the comments of the public into consideration.

Shortly, on September 1st and the days following, the House of Assembly will debate the new Constitution and vote on it. Then there will be a campaign for at least two months in September and October to explain this new Constitution further to the public. The public mainly shaped the new Constitution. They, as voters, will vote “Yes” or “No” in the referendum for the Constitution. This is as perfect a democratic exercise as human beings can ever hope for. I hope, too, for a two-thirds “Yes” vote to pass this Constitution which I helped to shape in the public consultations.

Let us face it, most people would understand the issues but a large number would not. In the end they would be guided by the views of people they trust and by their own knowledge and instincts. Let’s forget unhelpful talk about postponement of the referendum.

Andy Thomas

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