by Linda Straker
Observers from 3 international organisations are scheduled to be in Grenada to observe the 24 November Referendum that will see Grenadians voting on 7 bills, which, if obtaining a two-thirds majority from voters, will result in amendments to the 42 year old constitution.
Robert Branch, who is the coordinator for the Ministry of Legal Affairs for the constitution reform Advisory Committee, disclosed that the observers will be from the Organisation of American States, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the United Nations Systems.
“The OAS team will not be as big as the teams that were used in previous general elections, but they will be here to observe the process on that day,” Branch said, while explaining that already some members from the Commonwealth are already on the ground assisting with the continuous education of the Bills to the general public.
“The Commonwealth has a team here on the ground and they are assisting us at the Constitution reform Advisory Committee with education awareness; this education about the bills especially Bill 6 is required, because we realise that the more people understand the bills the more they are comfortable to make a decision,” said Branch.
Besides the international observers, the referendum legislation provides for the Parliamentary Elections Office to appoint community monitors to observe the proceedings on referendum day. “In a general election we have agents who will represent the various parties to ensure that the elections are done in accordance with the law, but we are having a referendum and the law requires that we have monitors from community groups in the constitutions “ said Ferdinand Phillips, Civic Education officer at the Parliamentary Elections Office.
He explained that the monitors will be doing the same work or observation of political agents on referendum day. “So instead of political agents we will have community monitors who must be recommended by a community group; no one can be self-recommended.”
The 7 Referendum Bills are:
- CONSTITUTION OF GRENADA (CARIBBEAN COURT OF JUSTICE AND OTHER JUSTICE RELATED MATTERS) (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2016;
- CONSTITUTION OF GRENADA (ELECTIONS AND BOUNDARIES COMMISSION) (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2016;
- CONSTITUTION OF GRENADA (ENSURING THE APPOINTMENT OF LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION) (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2016;
- CONSTITUTION OF GRENADA (FIXED DATE FOR ELECTIONS) (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2016;
- CONSTITUTION OF GRENADA (NAME OF STATE) (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2016;
- CONSTITUTION OF GRENADA (RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS) (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2016; AND
- CONSTITUTION OF GRENADA (TERM OF OFFICE OF PRIME MINISTER) (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2016.
The bills which get the required two-thirds majority from the voting public will then be incorporated into the constitution. This is the first time that Grenada is having a referendum to amend its constitution.
More than 70,000 are registered on the voter’s list.