Ambassador Dr. Clarence Henry makes recommendation ahead of planned referendum

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The opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) is being asked to submit to the Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, all the issues it would like to have voted on in a planned referendum.
The call is coming from the head of the National Coordinating Committee, which was set up to lead the education campaign as residents are going to be asked to choose between the Privy Council and the Caribbean Court of Justice as the country’s final appellate court.
Ambassador Dr. Clarence Henry is also recommending that all talks surrounding the precise number of items to be included on the ballot should be done in private, among all the relevant stakeholders instead of in the public domain, until a final decision is made.
“I believe that these discussions can go forward within the context of an agreement, an agreement that can identify the items which ought not to be a long list of items. The intention from my end, is that exchanges can be had between the entities to have that agreed approach.
“We do not want that determination to be out there in the public to create division among the population along political lines. It is not the best way to go.
Stakeholders will have their ideas but let those ideas contend in a side discussion prior to the relaunch of an education campaign,” Dr. Henry said.
He explained that once this agreed approach is taken, the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) would need to have sufficient time to prepare and have enough time to educate the public about the process.
Ambassador Henry said he spoke with Attorney General Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin about the issue earlier this week and he will be preparing a document on how government could approach the public education campaign to inform residents.
On May 16, the Attorney General stated publicly that the government would proceed with the referendum “within 120 days” of that date.
Benjamin had made the revelation at a special retirement sitting for CCJ President Sir Dennis Byron.
Meanwhile, political leader Harold Lovell stated in a recent interview that the party’s acceptance of the CCJ has not changed.
He recommended that the CCJ issue be placed within the context of constitutional reform so that there is a better and clearer understanding of the issue.
The political leader also explained that the party had earlier advocated for changing the head of state from governor general to president, an end to the issue of dual citizenship which bars one from becoming a parliamentarian, and allowing religious ministers to serve in Parliament, among other things to be included on the referendum.

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