by Linda Straker
- NDC will not support the referendum bill as it now stands
- Cites flaws and discrepancies in the current CCJ Bill
- TUC calls for removal of constitutional provision so CCJ can hear elections petition
Joseph Andall, Acting Political Leader of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), wants government to postpone the 6 November referendum which is seeking to make the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), the island’s final appellate court.
Citing the need for electoral reform and discrepancies in the current CCJ Bill, Andall in a news conference on Monday said that his party would not continue to support the referendum if government doesn’t suspend the current campaign.
“In addition to electoral reform, the NDC agrees with the Trade Union Council (TUC) position that the CCJ bill is deficient, in that it does not allow for the CCJ to be the final court of appeal in cases relating to the outcome of general elections,” said Andall. “There is no good and justifiable reason that the bill does not allow for this. The NDC agrees with the TUC that the bill should be amended to include this provision,” he said.
The current constitution provides an exception with regards to elections petition. It makes it clear that elections petition final court should not be taken to the Privy Council which is currently the final appellate court for Grenada. The TUC through it representative in the Parliament has called for that provision to be removed from the constitution so the CCJ can hear elections petition.
In a recent public meeting where this was raised, lawyer Ruggles Ferguson who is a member of the CCJ Advisory Committee explained that the 6 November referendum is not removing any right to go to a final court for any matter.
“Several legal minds have pointed out specific errors and flaws in the bill that should be rectified before the people of Grenada are ask to vote on it. The NDC believes that government should take time to address and correct these flaws where they exist,” said Andall.
“A bill to amend our constitution is not like any ordinary bill. It cannot be amended simply by passing another law. To amend it another referendum will be required, and that will mean more taxpayers’ money being spent which can be entirely avoided,” he added.
“The NDC, therefore, calls on government to postpone the referendum campaign so that all of the above matters can be address and the people of Grenada can move forward united as we make the CCJ our final appellate court under a strengthened electoral system,” said Andall. He explained that his party was recently taken by surprise with the recent amendment to Representation of the People’s Bill which among other things makes it a violation of law to use electronic devices at polling booths.
“We will not support the referendum bill as it stands now and will encourage every patriotic Grenadian to take a similar stand,” said Andall.