Gov’t agrees to broaden referendum to gain bipartisan support

Prime Minister Gaston Browne (centre) with Leader of the Opposition Baldwin Spencer (right) and Minister of Information, Broadcasting and Technology, Melford Nicholas following lively discussions on the way forward towards a Referendum on the Caribbean Court of Justice CCJ. (Photo by Maurice F Merchant)

In an effort to ensure that the referendum on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) versus the Privy Council goes ahead, Prime Minister Gaston Browne has agreed to have additional questions of constitutional reform determined on the same ballot.

The concession followed demands made by the United Progressive Party (UPP) which, according to the Leader of the Opposition, Baldwin Spencer, is of the view that “we are dealing with constitutional reform and constitutional reform is not limited to the CCJ”.

However, Browne warned that the issues that will be added to the ballot for the people’s determination must be “non-contentious issues” or there would be no referendum.

“Initially, our position was that in order to get buy-in to this process, we should limit it to a single issue; but if it is going to be a situation where we’re looking at a couple of non-contentious issues, we’re willing to do so,” Browne said.

The prime minister was speaking at a press conference, which followed a meeting between himself and the leader of the opposition held on the matter, yesterday, at the Office of the Prime Minister.

Spencer told OBSERVER media after the meeting that, “I will report to the United Progressive Party on the outcome of the deliberations, and it is for the UPP to state clearly their position, and conditions … for them to give support to the campaign for the CCJ.”

Spencer said that Browne wanted a response in writing from the UPP hierarchy within a week.

(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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