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Diversionary tactics about reforming Grenada’s constitution – Part II

This two-part Article behooves the youthful population to be ‘attentive and protective’ concerning the gains and enjoyments experienced over the first fifty years of Grenada being attributed the status of Nationhood and Self-determination; and equally, to be ‘conscious and appreciative’ of the struggles and sacrifices which have been engaged.

Most critical is the need for the present and upcoming youths to be ‘versed and vigorous’ towards any indications radiating from the powers-that-be, which will cause a repeat in whatever form and fashion, of the constitutional and political crises which have also featured that milestone period.

Recall the previous article ,”The Reality And Evaluation Of Self-Determination In Grenada”, which gives a heads-up on entering the next fifty years about the continuation of treacherous power play by the politicians for supremacy in the nation, and of the reality that the human dignity and rights, the cultural and social principles and the economic resources within the land space, air space and sea space of the nation are at serious stake.

The ‘gains, resources and stability’, whilst may be considered limited, are coveted by the peoples of many other countries, and thus should not be taken for granted.

The interactions by Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell at the 19th Sir Archibald Nedd Memorial Public Lecture on 22 November 2023, about “Reparations, Republicanism and The Rule of Law: What Next After Fifty Years Of Independence?” should serve as a startling insight about the ‘aim, attitude and action’ of the 23 June 2022 Administration of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) with its “Transforming Grenada!

Let’s Move Grenada Forward” agenda. Particularly; the occasion surfaces deep answers to the article, “Is The 2022 Elections Manifesto Of Grenada’s Main Opposition Complete?” which questions the exclusion of fundamental issues about constitutional reforms and electoral reforms.

The absence of those pertinent statements in the Manifesto, for advancing Grenada’s Constitution and Democratic Governance must be considered ‘ridiculous and treacherous’, especially in view of the commendable robust stance exerted by the NDC, even without having a seat in the Parliament, regarding the conduct of the constitutional referenda on 24 November 2016 and 06 November 2018.

Being spurred with the ‘enlightenment and enthusiasm and energy’ of the masses about the ‘critical and imperative’ issues for constitutional reforms, from those referenda, NDC pledges in a Policy Document for the March 2018 general elections to “establish a Constituent Assembly to complete the reform of the (‘Grenada’) existing Constitution after (‘further’) comprehensive public consultations … ensure that the reform process adequately and progressively addresses all of the major gaps and ambiguities identified by the 1985, 2006 and 2010 Constitution Review Commissions and Bodies … “.

Consistent with the thrust to “build a better bond between the People and the Constitution”, Joseph Andall, at a time as the political leader of the NDC and now is the Minister of Foreign Affairs, piloted the excellent point at a 2018 public forum on the Constitution, for amassing interests, efforts and resources to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Grenada’s Independence on 07 February 2024 with the ushering in of a new Constitution.

Dickon obtains the political leadership of the NDC on 31 October 2021 and seems to know better, even behind-the-scenes deals including global developments with institutions such as the United Nations and the European Union, and to hold and convince differently about sovereignty, governance, democracy and of the political trajectory for Grenada; and thus abandons the aspirations and expectations of the locals, NDC party supporters as well as independent patriots, for ‘applicable and meaningful’ constitutional reforms.

As a matter of fact; the past article “Constitutionally Reset Grenada At The 50th Independence Jubilee” outlines the background for those reforms, but guesses as to Dickon’s NDC having a strategic path of conspiracy against the sovereign constituents with ‘narrow and superficial’ reforms for self-serving persons.

Moreover, whilst Chairperson of the National Organising Committee for the Golden Jubilee, Dr. Wendy Crawford-Daniel proclaims that Grenadians are at a point now ‘ready to rewrite and define their history; ready to embrace their heritage, culture, people and lives; to define themselves as Grenadians; and to develop their own national identity free from external influence or definition’, it seems that the Prime Minister is not enthused and ready to embark on those sovereign undertakings.

Dickon Mitchell discovers and declares that Grenada’s 1974 existing constitutional system is outdated and counterproductive to democracy and that it doesn’t lead to good governance but can be exploited for political advantage.

He further expounds that there is no real or true separation of the Legislature from the Executive and thus concludes that the idea that the Executive is accountable to the Legislature is in many instances a complete and total myth, in which the Executive could in fact end up with Absolute Power or near absolute power and even create a new Constitution with its own political terms and agendas.

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His position confirms and complements the sentiments of the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and The Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who had delivered the 4th Annual Sir Archibald Nedd Memorial Public Lecture on the topic: “Prime Ministers Under Commonwealth Caribbean Constitution, Too Much, or Too Little Power?”

That is, on 28 February 2002, Gonsalves profoundly highlights the more than twenty aspects of “extraordinary dominance” which the Prime Ministers of countries like Grenada, exercise in the political sphere of the country’s management, and exclaims, “I have come to realize Power is an Illusion.

Prime ministerial power in these societies is largely an administrative power to do evil”. The comments by Dickon Mitchell to the question about having a commitment by the NDC’s Government to undertake a process towards constitutional reforms must be condemned as ‘offensive and annoying’ to the intelligence and sovereignty of the Grenadian people; whilst indeed affirming the public thinking of “our politicians just want the constitution of the politicians” to consolidate and abuse State power.

In seeking to be ‘impressive and genuine’ about not venturing for a constitutional referendum as a priority within the ‘five-year’ tenure, further to the ‘unfounded and unmerited’ reason offered that the political Opposition would take the undertaking to “play political football.”

Dickon continues with the other main excuse which is in the form of ‘shifting the goal post”.

He is quoted as saying: “… the conversation about a constitution by and for the people requires in my view, deep fundamental conversations; it requires education and it requires providing options. It requires actually saying to people there is the Westminster style, there is the American style, there is the Singaporean model, there is the Chinese model, there is the PRG model.

He went on to say: “Let us talk about all ah them; let us educate ourselves about and then decide whether one or combination of them is better suited for us. That requires deep educating; public consciousness; and a willingness for the political parties to sit down face to face together and have those conversations.

“If that is not going to happen, we probably will have 200 referenda and nothing will pass, because whoever in Opposition will say I ain’t supporting it, because they just don’t want the Government achieve something, and when the Government goes into Opposition they will continue the same thing … so my answer is, it is unlikely … but from an education point of view and about having the conversation about what type of Government we need for Grenada over the next fifty years, I am happy to have the conversation and to be an advocate for that process …”.

It is imperative for Dickon to be further challenged as to whether or not he is acquainted with and accepts the 2014 documentation “Recommendations By Grenada Constitution Review Commissions“ by Dr. Francis Alexis for Grenada’s Constitution Reform Advisory Committee; the 2002 publication Caribbean Constitutional Reform/Rethinking the West Indian Polity”, and the thesis “Re-drafting The Grenada Constitution” by the late Professor Simeon C.R. McIntosh; as well as the 2016 two-part article by Claudette Joseph, currently the Attorney General, on “Constitution Reform: The Process & The Announcement of Referendum Date”, taking for a credible, transparent and consensus based process.

It should not escape all Grenadians that whilst Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell promotes that ‘the conversation about a constitution by and for the people requires deep fundamental conversations, deep educating, public consciousness, providing options, and a willingness for the political parties to sit down face to face together and have those conversations’; the Samoa Agreement was allowed or instructed to be signed without the ‘knowledge and examination and understanding’ of the masses.

Most ‘disgraceful and disrespectful’ about the situation is that the ‘controversial’ signing on 22 November 2023 by Grenada’s Resident Ambassador in the Kingdom of Belgium, Raphael Joseph, was done even without the Prime Minister having read the Agreement to determine its fitness for Grenada’s jurisdiction.

The more than 400-page ‘comprehensive document’ of this new Partnership Agreement between the European Union and its member states, and the members of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States, would be “legally binding”, with its ratification likely in contravention of the Constitution.

J.K. Roberts