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Response to Minister Ramadhar’s call for a Referendum on the CCJ
The People’s Partnership is about an on-going process. In that context, each day brings new perspectives on different issues. Not every difference will find resolution and consensus and that is the nature of our five member grouping . It is an understood and accepted part of the dynamism that emanates from the diversity and political energies of the various parties that are welded together by a common desire to improve the quality of life for all our citizens.
There cannot be a public pronouncement on every opinion and perspective shared by each member every day. As regards the statement by the COP that a referendum should be held before any decision is taken regarding the CCJ, such matters are ideally suited for discussion at the level of the cabinet.
The announcement in Parliament on the government’s decision to accept the CCJ as this country's final appellate court in respect of criminal matters has been hailed as a positive step in the right direction by all and sundry. Indeed, it has been embraced by even the Opposition. Leading jurists, eminent lawyers and civil leaders have welcomed the announcement . Local, regional and international political leaders, diplomats and academics have also commended the government for this bold move after half a century of independence.
It is one of the rare occasions when congratulatory consensus is found. If, however, one of our member parties differs in their view one has to acknowledge this, but it does not automatically alter the government’s position. It was never a formal stated policy nor agreed platform of the People’s Partnership that a referendum be held prior to a decision on the CCJ so no issue of departure arises. Indeed, our constitution and laws make no provision for such a measure which would in itself require a constitutional amendment that can facilitate the holding of a referendum.
One must understand that as we embark upon the kind of major positive social shift and political change which the People’s Parnership brought with it, there will be intense debate from all quarters, both within and without the government. Change does that. The discussions taking place across the country today is evidence of the change the country voted for and of a healthy democracy at work.
Reporting by Richard Lord
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