Constitutional Review Committee to be named

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The names of the people who are being asked to serve on the Constitutional Review Committee, will be released next week following final approval from the Cabinet.
The government is also working towards establishing terms of reference for the committee, which will comprise individuals from civil society groups, the religious community, non-profit organisations, the legal fraternity and other fields, including professionals.
It is intended that the composition and the terms of reference for the members of the committee will be established before the end of October.
This is according the nation’s leader, Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who made the disclosure during a programme on his radio station recently. He said this is also in line with a few recommendations that were made by the political leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP) Harold Lovell.
“By next Wednesday, Cabinet will give consideration to the members and we will be in a position to announce, possibly by next Thursday, who the members of the committee will be,” Browne said.
In a release issued to the media last week, the UPP’s political leader stated that Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer will serve as Deputy Chair of the committee, which is to be tasked with examining what to change in Antigua and Barbuda’s constitution.
The UPP press release followed a letter from Browne inviting the opposition party to nominate someone to serve in the post. In his letter the PM also said 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 a response to the prime minister’s missive, Lovell called for the Committee to be established “no later than October 31, 2018 … in light of the concerns expressed by the public.”
He also reminded Browne that “accession to the CCJ was but one aspect” of the Party’s overall position, and called for action on the five other reforms proposed in his March 18, 2016 letter to Dr. Francis Alexis.
He has asked 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 people who hold dual citizenship and ministers of religion from being elected to Parliament, and making “citizens of Antigua and Barbuda the primary holders of the franchise” – i.e., the primary category of persons entitled to vote.
Browne said he has no problem accepting the recommendations.
“I have no difficulty with that request. My government would have demonstrated a commitment to pursue comprehensive constitutional reform and on that basis, it would have negated the arguments of the UPP which include the whole issue of not supporting the transition to the CCJ because we agree to pursue a single-issue referendum.
“With this commitment now and the fact that they are participating, I believe it takes that argument off the table,” Browne said.

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