Guyana to get UN Assistance in Constitutional Reform Project: Nagamootoo Says

Moses Nagamootoo

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – Guyana says it will be receiving assistance from the United Nations as it embarks on a constitutional reform program.

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, noted that in light of the controversy surrounding the appointment of retired Justice James Patterson as the new chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), persons “should interrogate the prescriptions by which appointments such as these would take place…”

The main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has filed a motion in the High Court challenging Patterson’s appointment and calling on President David Granger to state the reasons as to why he made the appointment.

Nagamootoo said the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have volunteered and pledged their support to facilitate an investigative team to determine the necessary steps to be taken and ways to fund the necessary requirements for the reform program.

He said this is vital since in the near future once the constitution is advanced, it will afford citizens “a comfort level that they can trust our laws and that our laws can be followed in a way that all will feel comfortable and secure.

“There should be no insecurity whether political or ethnic in Guyana because there is a deficiency in our supreme law in our constitution.”

A government statement noted that the constitutional reform is aimed at modifying some of the fundamental principles that government the country. It noted that the 1980 Constitution was reformed and the changes enshrined in the revised supreme law in 2001.

Prime Minister Nagamootoo launched the drive for constitutional reform when he read the Constitutional Reform Consultative Commission Bill 2017 on July 27 for the first time in the National Assembly.

“The UN has been incrementally aiding Guyana with the constitutional reform process. In February of this year, a team of experts from the UN body visited Guyana to explore the needs for constitutional reform. The group met and discussed with the Prime Minister, Ministers and Senior Advisors, the Speaker of the National Assembly and MPs, the Leader and senior members of the Opposition, Constitutional Rights Commissions members, the GECOM Chairman, a broad spectrum of leaders and activists of various Civil Society Organisations and the private sector among others,” the statement noted.

It said the UN experts had identified “a wide consensus on the need for constitutional reform among national stakeholders, who acknowledged the need for long-term UN assistance in Guyana and anticipated benefitting from the UN’s support of constitutional reform and tapping the good practices of other countries”. – CMC