Constitutional reform bill before August
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Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo

THE Constitutional Reform Bill will be laid in the National Assembly before the August recess, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo announced on Tuesday.
The decision to have the Constitutional Reform and Consultative Bill laid before the House was taken on Tuesday at the level of Cabinet. “The Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana remains committed to the process of constitutional reform and has been working steadily to put all the necessary mechanisms and framework in place,” a statement from the Department of Public Information (DPI) said.
The A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Government, through the Office of the Prime Minister, had set up the Steering Committee on Constitutional Reform (SCCR) led by Nigel Hughes.

Last year, SCCR submitted its report to Prime Minister Nagamootoo and the process of the drafting and review of the bill has been ongoing over the past months. “The Coalition Government views the laying of the Constitutional Reform and Consultative Bill in the National Assembly as a major advancement in the process towards Constitutional Reform,” DPI said.
During a visit to Guyana in April, a United Nations (UN) delegation had said that the process of constitutional reform creates an opportunity for social cohesion and nation-building. The UN delegation expressed the view while presenting its findings on the Constitutional Reform process to Prime Minister Nagamootoo.

That report addressed the risks associated with the process of Constitutional Reform on the basis that Guyana has a history of racial division and ethnic-political conflict.
In mid-2015, Prime Minister Nagamootoo had initiated talks with the then UN Resident Coordinator Khadija Musa, with the aim of acquiring support from the UN during this process. Talks had continued with Musa’s successor, Mikiko Tanaka. Those talks resulted in a Constitutional Assessment Mission being conducted here by a team from the UN in February, 2017, in order to advise the Guyana government and to provide UN decision-makers with context for its support.

The report recommends that a successful constitutional reform process must emphasise meaningful dialogue, negotiation and compromise on the part of government, opposition and citizens. Additionally, it states that the Constitutional Reform Commission (CRC) must be independent, representative and inclusive of civil society, noting that the public at large must be provided with opportunities to participate. It said too that major attention must be placed on public education in an effort to facilitate effective participation.

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