All nominees submitted for Constitutional Reform Commission – AG

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Attorney General & Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall, S.C.

Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall, SC, has disclosed that his office has received the names of all the nominees from the various civil society bodies to be appointed to the Constitutional Reform Commission (CRC).

On January 10, letters were dispatched to the various stakeholder bodies to submit their nominees to be appointed to the Commission within one month. While most of these names were received by the February 10 deadline, there were a few outstanding.

When contacted, AG Nandlall confirmed that submissions have since been received from all the bodies.

“[I’m] confirming that all nominations have been received,” he said.

The 20-member Constitutional Reform Commission has to be drawn from political parties (five from the ruling party, four from the main Opposition and one from the Joinder Parties), while the 10 remaining persons will be drawn from religious groupings, the Private Sector, the Guyana Bar Association, the National Toshaos Council, the labour movement, women’s organisations as well as nominees representing farmers and youths.

While AG Nandlall has insisted on not divulging the nominees submitted, stating that President Dr Irfaan Ali will make that revelation since it is a presidential commission, some of the names have already been publicised.

Last week, the main political parties revealed their nominees to sit on the highly-anticipated Commission.

The ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP) General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo disclosed that it had nominated AG Nandlall; Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Minister Gail Teixeira; Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony; Amerindian Affairs Minister Pauline Sukhai; and Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister, Kwame McCoy, to be Government’s representatives on the Commission.

Similarly, Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton revealed the nominees named by the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Opposition to sit on the Commission.

They are Opposition Commissioner at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Vincent Alexander; Economist Sherwood Lowe; Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Ganesh Mahipaul and Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes.

In addition, the Joinder Parties – A New and United Guyana (ANUG); the Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), and The New Movement (TNM) – which hold one seat in Parliament have also submitted their nominee to the Government in the person of ANUG’s General Secretary, Timothy Jonas, SC.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that Dr Daniel Josh Kanhai has been selected as the youth representative on the Commission following months of consultation among youth representative bodies. Those consultations wrapped up on Wednesday after which the nomination was submitted to the AG Chambers.

Constitutional reform was promised, in 2020 in the PPP/C Manifesto, where, it was further outlined that consultations with the populace and important stakeholders, and a broad-based Constitutional Reform Commission would drive the process.The way was paved for the establishment of the Reform Commission, and the commencement of the reform process following the passage of the Constitutional Reform Commission Bill in the National Assembly in November 2022. Back in August of 2022, the Government presented the Constitutional Reform Commission Bill 2022 in the National Assembly. That Bill sought the establishment of the 20-member Commission to review the country’s supreme laws.

Government had previously said that this would not be a politically-dominated Commission but one that was comprised of 50 per cent politicians and 50 per cent civil society representatives, and their work would be driven by public consultations.During his weekly programme – Issues in the News – on Tuesday evening, AG Nandlall said the PPP/C’s diverse set of nominations for the CRC demonstrated that it was the only national party in the country.

“We have ethnic mix. So, we have two Indo-Guyanese, we have an Afro-Guyanese, we have an Amerindian and we have a Portuguese. We have two women and three men… Look at the main Opposition, no gender and no ethnic balance,” the Minister stated.

Meanwhile, now that all 20 nominations have been received, President Ali is expected to swear in these members soon to establish the long-awaited Constitutional Reform Commission. Once the Commission is in place, a comprehensive consultation process is expected to begin with citizens on critical laws that needed to be reformed.

According to the provisions of the CRC Bill, the Commission will review the Constitution to provide for the current and future rights, duties, liabilities and obligations of the Guyanese people. It is mandated for that purpose to receive, consider, and evaluate submissions for the alteration of the Constitution, and report its recommendations to the standing committee for transmission to the National Assembly.

The Commission is tasked with consultations for the reform process to continue, whereby a report will be prepared and sent to the standing committee. The committee will then refine the submissions into amendments for the National Assembly.

Last year, Government had earmarked the sum of $150 million in the 2023 National Budget for constitutional reform activities.

This year, additional monies have been allocated towards the establishment of the CRC, including the rental of a building to house the Commission. During the Consideration of the Budget 2024 Estimates last month, AG Nandlall disclosed that the Government had identified the building on Middle Street, Georgetown that was used for the conduct of several Commissions of Inquiry, as the office for the CRC.

“I can safely say that just after these budget proceedings are concluded, His Excellency shall move to appoint the Constitutional Reform Commission, and this is the building in which that Commission will be housed. It is already furnished and ready for occupation by the secretariat and the Commission,” Nandlall had stated.