First referendum since independence is cause for celebration, says Grenada PM
Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell says the country should be celebrating the fact that a referendum on the constitution has been held for the first time since independence was attained in 1974.
Mitchell was speaking in the wake of opposition inspired comments suggesting celebration after none of the seven proposed bills achieved a two-thirds majority.
Mitchell’s New National Party controls all 15 seats in the House of Representatives after Grenadians voted to remove the National Democratic Congress (NDC) from government nearly four years ago.
“The only celebration we should have in this is the fact that we brought in for the first time and initiative that has never been attempted .Only thing I would have been celebrating is the fact that we have started a process,” Mitchell said during Tuesday’s post cabinet news briefing.
“So I think history would record during the period of my term in government the fact that we have started a process of looking and attempting to change our constitution,” he added.
Opposition surrogates spearheaded a NO campaign by encouraging voters to vote against all seven bills.
One of the Bills would have given the opposition representation on an Election and Boundaries Commission, which was supposed to have replaced the current Parliamentary Elections Office.
“How do I celebrate when we have a constitution that says the governor general is appointed on recommendation of the prime minister?” the prime minister asked.
“The governor general then turns around and appoints the supervisor of elections. He turns around and is accountable to the governor general and appoints all presiding officers, poll clerks and everything that exists in an election period. Nothing about consulting an opposition,” he noted.
Another bill, if passed, would have guaranteed a leader of the opposition in the parliament once one party wins all 15 seats in a general election.
Yet another bill, seen as favouring the opposition, would have allowed Parliament to set the date for general elections.
The current constitution gives the prime minister the power to call an election anytime he wants.
“So I am in a position that the system we have decides for us that the influence of the government of the day can be unnecessarily too much. Who has lost?” Mitchell asked.
“If you are thinking numbers and gain, you would have to say Keith Mitchell has gained if that is your concept. That is not my concept. I have gained nothing. So those who are celebrating they are celebrating the gain of somebody else and this is quite fascinating,” he concluded.