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Commentary: Law and Politics: Now up to the people
Published on September 2, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Lloyd Noel

After 40 years of political independence, granted to our tri-island state by England in February 1974, we are about to tell the same British government that we no longer wish to remain in association with that state and we are going out on our own as a republican state, with our own local president as head of state.

Lloyd Noel is a former attorney general of Grenada, prominent attorney at law and political commentator
To be able to do the above, the government has to put that proposition to the people by means of referendum on the Grenada constitution.

And to have arrived at the stage to engage the people to cast their votes for or against the proposition, the government had appointed a 15-member committee to consider the pros and cons of the issue and make recommendations for the people’s consideration and voting decision.

And to be able to decide on the way ahead, the recommendations have to be put by government in the referendum now fixed for the month of March 2015, and a two-thirds majority of the votes cast have to be obtained for the constitutional reformation required.

The committee has prepared and presented to the government its recommendations for the referendum to be put to the people to obtain the required two-thirds majority, and these total 12 all told.

From the reports coming out of the committee meetings and decisions on the various issues considered, it seems that there was no unanimous decision by the committee members on any of the major issues considered, and in many cases only a bare majority attended meetings and voted.

The two major issues are the breakaway from the Privy Council and the Queen as head of state, and the joining of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as our final court of appeal, in place of the Privy Council court of appeal in England.

There is nothing in the 12 issues submitted by the committee dealing with the subject of head of state in place of the Queen nor the issue of the terms of office of the prime minister under our republican status.

But the news coming out of the political corridors is that the president will be for a lifetime, and the PM for a term of ten years from two general elections held five years apart.

Of course, once we move out of the constitutional restraints imposed by our current 1974 independence order, the government in control can pass anything in parliament as the law of the land, and that is it until another parliament revokes whatever it is.

The problem with the president for life provision is that, if the head of state is an NNP official and in a general election another party group wins the control of government, should that party pass an act in parliament that the head of state does not approve of, he may refuse to sign it into law and chaos results.

That problem can be avoided if there is provision in the new constitution to prevent such action by the head of state down the road.

Whatever it maybe we will not know until after the major change has been achieved and by that time the damage will be beyond repair.

What all the foregoing – as well as other issues not mentioned thus far – are clearly indicating can produce major problems, should the constitutional reforms be passed by the people come March next year, is that under our republican system of government that the controllers are striving to achieve, we can be subject to all sorts of strange happenings.

Our people have just over six months, to think very carefully about what they are being asked to do by the constitutional reforms those now in control are planning for March 2015.

It matters not which political party anyone is supporting, the main issue facing us as a people is what we will be getting in place of what we are being asked to abolish by the current controllers.

And even more critical is that, once we vote in favour of the changes being proposed by those now in control, we cannot do anything to get back to where we are before the vote.

So our people have to think very deeply about what is being proposed, as opposed to what we now have; and when the changes begin to take all kinds of dramatic effects on our lifestyle, how are we going to cope and change the chaos and confusion that will result.
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