The government will move ahead with certain aspects of constitutional reform, despite earlier indications by Prime Minister Gaston Browne that plans would likely cease.
Following the ‘disappointing’ outcome of the country’s first referendum on Tuesday, November 6, the PM said it was unlikely that his government would pursue any further constitutional reform in the near future.
However, Chief of Staff Lionel “Max” Hurst told reporters recently that following the discussion on the outcome of the referendum, the Cabinet decided that the government would proceed with the discussions, though, not on an extensive basis.
“Cabinet was of the view that the appetite for Constitutional Reform is clearly not present and therefore, the Cabinet agreed that it would move forward with the agreement that was made earlier to appoint a Constitutional Reform Committee but it will limit its mandate, to those items which do not require a referendum.
“So, where there is an agreement between the opposition and the government on any of the items that do not require a referendum, the Cabinet is prepared to move forward on them,” Hurst said.
He further stated that retired Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) President Sir Dennis Byron will remain Chairman of the Constitutional Review Committee and Former Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer as Deputy Chairman.
He also added that letters have been dispatched to several non-governmental organisations requesting them to nominate someone to serve on the committee.
As it relates to what the committee will address with its limited scope, Hurst said, “The opposition has proposed many of these issues including allowing nationals who are citizens of other countries, by birth, to participate in electoral politics in Antigua, there is also the participation of men of the cloth in electoral politics.”
He said, according to the current constitution, men of the cloth are barred from entering politics, the same goes for citizens of Antigua and Barbuda who were born outside of the country.
The majority of the electorate, who turned out last Tuesday, said “NO” to the government’s request for Antigua and Barbuda to accept the CCJ as the country’s final appellate court in place of the Privy Council.