Former Prime Minister Says Yes to Position on Constitutional Review Committee

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Friday 12th October, 2018-The United Progressive Party says former Prime Minister Dr. W. Baldwin Spencer has accepted the nomination to serve as Deputy Chair of the Constitutional Review Committee that is to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Gaston Browne.

United Progressive Party (UPP) Political Leader Harold Lovell in a statement confirmed the nomination this afternoon, and Opposition Leader Jamale Pringle enthusiastically endorsed Dr. Spencer as “the best person to fill the position.”

By way of a letter received from the Prime Minister yesterday, Thursday, Lovell was invited to “nominate someone who is capable of serving” in the position of Deputy, on behalf of the UPP.

In his letter, the prime minister outlined that he “intends to inaugurate that body shortly after November 6, 2018,” which is the date of the Referendum on the Caribbean Court of Justice.

However, in his response, the UPP Political Leader is calling for the Committee to be established “no later than October 31, 2018 … in light of the concerns expressed by the public.”

Harold Lovell contends that “accession to the CCJ was but one aspect” of the Party’s overall position, and calls for action on the five other reforms proposed in his March 18, 2016 letter to Dr. Francis Alexis.

He asks that the three which do not require a referendum be published for discussion and tabled as Bills before Parliament in a timely manner.

These include removing the bar on persons who hold dual citizenship and ministers of religion from being elected to Parliament, and making “citizens of Antigua & Barbuda the primary holders of the franchise” – i.e., the primary category of persons entitled to vote.

Lovell further proposes that the other two reforms – the merger of the Electoral Commission with the Constituencies & Boundaries Commission and the replacement of the Governor-General with a President – “should form the basis for the work of the proposed Committee. The 2002 Sir Fred Phillips Report would serve as the working document,” he adds.

The Prime Minister, in his letter, reiterated his pledge “to ensure the broadest possible inclusion of civil society groups.”  To that end, Lovell recommends that Antiguans and Barbudans for Constitutional Reform and Education (ABCRE); The Movement; the Bar Association; the trade unions, the business community, and the clergy be represented on the Committee.

He also calls on the Prime Minister to establish clear Terms of Reference, a budget allocation, and a timetable for the completion of the work by the Committee.