Presidential powers still too much – WPA…calls for fast-tracking of overdue constitutional reform
June 21, 2017
guyana times June 21, 2017
Wanting a reduction in the powers of the President, the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) said it is time Government moves to fast-track constitutional reform.
The WPA said on Monday that it is dissatisfied at the pace with which Government is moving in dealing with constitutional reform; a major plank of its 2015 elections campaign manifesto.
Executive member, Dr David Hinds said his party has always fought for constitutional reform, and had its hand in the inclusion of that part of the coalition campaign manifesto.
“We feel that constitutional reform is critical to everything that we are doing, because constitutional reform has to do with where the State (for example) is reconstructed. It has to do with the allocation of power; it has to do with the whole question of ethnicity and the sharing of power in this country”.
He said the WPA feels strongly that the President has too much power. According to him, despite some modification to the Constitution in 2001, presidential powers are still too much, and the party wants to see a modification of those powers.
“So there are some things that we feel need to be done immediately and constitutional reform should be put on the table as a central plank”.
Hinds said governments come and go, but it is important that there are rules of engagement. He said there is need for rules of engagement that will assure Guyanese that their security is guaranteed constitutionally.
“So we will argue in the [A Partnership for National Unity] APNU for a kick-start of the process and make good on our promise”, Dr Hinds promised.
He reminded of the committee headed by Nigel Hughes which submitted its report to Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo since last year, but nothing has yet begun to take shape.
“We are very clear, that having put in the manifesto… we in the WPA have fought in every manifesto for constitutional reform”.
The report submitted by the Hughes committee is still sitting before Cabinet and the process appears to have been stalled. This has led to public speculation that Government has lost interest, although some $80 million was allocated to the process.
The agreement made in the Cummingsburg Accord regarding constitutional reform reads that the President should be elected by a majority of electors; that there should be separate elections for the presidency and National Assembly; Executive powers should be shared between the President, Prime Minister and the Cabinet. The Cabinet should comprise members of the parties which have achieved at least 15 per cent of the vote at the national elections; the supreme organs of democratic power should be the President and the National Assembly; and the Prime Minister shall be the person who secures the second highest votes in the presidential elections.
It promised too that the Executive powers and responsibilities of the Prime Minister should be increased to include some executive powers and responsibility over the Cabinet; the members of the Cabinet would be subject to the approval of, and removal by, the National Assembly and the immunities of the President would be reduced.