It’s been a while, but it looks like the long-promised constitutional reform process will begin. There’s already the Standing Committee of the National Assembly on Constitutional Reform, where lawyerly big-wigs of both Govt and Opposition have been members for a while. Last November, Government sponsored a bill for the process to commence, but it was only last month that letters were sent out to the twenty constitutionally approved bodies that are supposed to submit representative to the Constitutional Reform Commission (CRC). And let the games begin, and the two big political parties have submitted their names!!!
And unfortunately, much of what will follow is gamesmanship. Let’s take the Opposition: when they were in Government, they sponsored the very same bill to reform the Constitution, which was a big chunk of the manifesto that had gotten them elected.
They set up a CRC – headed by one of their legal worthies – which held hearings; took submissions from individuals and groups they’d invited; summarized the reports; and culled their suggestions in a report which they submitted to the esteemed (albeit toothless) PM Nagamootoo. And from that point, it appeared that the Opposition was able to open a portal into a Black Hole into which they threw the Report – from which it can never be seen again!! Your Eyewitness suspected the existence of the Black Hole when the PNC SoPS from the 2020 elections disappeared!!
So, did the Opposition keep a copy of their CRC Report – which they might resubmit to the new CRC?? If they do, they’ll have the support of at least the former Chair of their CRC, whom they’d appointed to the new CRC. Are you following this?? But it ain’t gonna happen…for the simple reason that they’re NOW in Opposition!! And all they’re concerned about now is how they can change the Constitution to get themselves back into office – even if it means forcing the PPP or any larger party winning elections to SHARE power!!
And the PPP?? They might very well say that if it ain’t broken, then what’s to fix?? The PNC had battered PPP supporters in riots and arson after the 1997 elections to force massive constitutional changes in 2000. The big one was the reduction of the powers of Burnham’s imperial constitution. The PPP can very well say that all of the changes that the PNC had accepted to increase their powers – such as their chair of half of the Parliamentary Sectoral Committees – have not been utilized by them to identify areas that could possibly be improved through better governance.
You’re beginning to see the game unfolding?? T&T’s Panday had suggested “the people” be first consulted on what they want – and the Committees should devise ways to achieve that!!
…in VP’s role?
The Opposition PNC and AFC have gone to the court to have VP Jagdeo ejected from the National Assembly!! And what will they “pray” to the court to justify their demand?? Their high powered (high paid also?) lawyers have gone to the Constitution to claim that, with Jagdeo not having sat in Parliament for the last SEVEN sittings, through Art 54 and 156 (1) and Standing Order 106 (2) of the National Assembly, he can’t sit no mo!! For good measure, they’re also claiming if the VP ain’t an MP, he can’t be in Cabinet or be a VP!! And they get rid of the biggest thorn in their side!!
But S.O. 106 says that once permission to be absent was sought and granted by the Speaker, then all is well in the status of the MP!! So, all Jagdeo pointed out, when asked about the suit, was the Speaker would pronounce on the matter!!
But these Opposition fellas also argued that 33 wasn’t the majority of 65!!
…in world’s bragging rights
Some folks are adamant that America’s star has dimmed so greatly that America can’t claim to be #1 no mo’!! The BRICS grouping – recently augmented to BRICS + – together outperform the US by a mile!!