The Constitutional Reform Commission Bill 2022 was passed in the National Assembly on Monday, despite the Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Opposition’s lack of support.
In August, the government presented the Bill, which will establish a Constitution Reform Commission to review the country’s supreme laws.
The Commission is expected to consist of 20 members, who are to be appointed by the President.
The government is expected to nominate five members, while the APNU+AFC will submit four, and one will derive from the joinder list of the LJP, ANUG, and TNM.
Also, one seat will be given to the Bar Association, Labour Movement, National Toshaos Council, private sector, women’s organisations, youth organisations, farmers, and each of the three major religions.
The Bill allows the President to appoint a Chair of the Commission, acting in accordance with his own deliberate judgment.
After its annual Parliamentary recess, lawmakers returned to the National Assembly on Monday to debate on the Bill for a second time.
Before the debate could have gotten underway, the APNU+AFC walked out of Parliament after the Speaker of the House Manzoor Nadir refused to entertain a motion by Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton, who was seeking to address the need for a clean voters list.
In declining the motion, the Speaker noted that it did not qualify as one of definite urgent importance.
Notwithstanding, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall, SC, went ahead with his debate. He assured the Assembly that the Commission would be free from political control.
“The Commission will have functional autonomy in planning its agenda and executing its agenda. Government will not attempt, in any form or fashion, to influence the work of the Commission,” the AG noted.
Minister Nandlall opined that constitutional reform is a platform every political party promised. He noted that the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) is fulfilling another manifesto promise.
Notwithstanding, he noted that for constitutional reform to succeed, it requires “full participation of the Parliament, it requires bi-partisanship.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker and Leader of the Liberty and Justice Party (LJP) Lenox Shuman said he fully supports the Bill but called for more indigenous representation.
Minister Nandlall assured the Deputy Speaker that the Amerindians would have full participation. The Bill was considered in the Committee clause by clause and passed without amendments.