ST GEORGE’S, Grenada (CMC) — The main Opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) yesterday said it had every confidence that Grenadians will “do what is right” for the island when they vote in today’s referendum to amend the 1974 Constitution.
The NDC said that the address by Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell on Tuesday night, in which he urged citizens to come out and vote, “has once again demonstrated the contempt and disregard which his Government has for the people of Grenada”.
The NDC, which lost all the seats it contested in the last general election, said for the prime minister to suggest that the referendum underscores the unity in the country, “is contemptuous of the plight of our people”.
“We, as a people, have to hang our heads in shame as our Government continues to sell patronage to so-called overseas investors and Grenada is viewed by many of our international partners as a corrupt nation. We have to be very concerned about the future of our young people who are fast losing hope because of the neglect of an uncaring Government. The prime minister is not facing reality,” the NDC added.
In his radio and television broadcast, Mitchell said that referendum like these do not happen regularly.
“For my generation, and even the one after me, it might be the first and only opportunity that we get to have a direct say in amending a document that was handed down to us, even before we had colour television or access to the Internet. The world has changed a lot since 1974; and we continue to change with it. Even when struck down by hurricane or bitten by political upheaval, our people have never feared the future. And we do not fear it now,” Mitchell said.
“We can make a mark for the next generation of dreamers, who will continue to reach for the stars, because we had settled for solid ground on which they can plant their feet,” Mitchell said, noting that as head of the Government, “I personally appeal to all Grenadians to go out and participate in the referendum on Thursday.
“If you need further information and guidance, speak to your representatives, or your social and religious leaders. Whichever direction the vote goes, I am assured of one thing: Grenada will win on Thursday. I look forward to us waking up on Friday as a greater nation,” he added.
But the NDC said that the context and subtext of today’s national referendum “is, as we have said before, a constitution reform process which has been marred by underhand dealings, short cuts, political shenanigans, confusion and smoke and mirrors.
“In the end, your vote for or against in the referendum must be based on whether you honestly believe that what has taken place and what is taking place at this time and the manner in which it is taking place is in the best interest of our country as a modern democratic state,” the opposition party said.
It noted that the Government has proposed seven Bills to be voted upon, adding that the “NDC has always maintained that the process was flawed and that the Bills as drafted did not represent the wishes of the Grenadian people gleaned from the various consultations previously undertaken.”
“The Prime Minister’s position on these Bills has been a changing one: First, he initially called on the people to vote with their conscience and free will on these matters. Then he seems to have changed his mind as he and his party was calling for a ‘yes’ vote on all issues. Now he is suggesting that only three of those Bills are worthy of consideration.”
The NDC said that this latest position “is no doubt a concession that we were right in relation to the other four Bills”.
“It is also indicative of the Government’s desire to play politics with this constitution reform process. We continue to maintain that the three Bills he seeks to support do not entirely reflect the wishes and aspirations of our people. In the end, your vote for or against in the referendum must be an informed one. We have confidence in our people to do what is right for Grenada,” the party said.
Grenadians will vote on seven Bills, including those that will allow for the island replacing the London-based Privy Council with the Trinidad and Tobago-based Caribbean Court of Justice as the final court.
In addition, the Bills also allow for term limits for the prime minister and changes the name of the tri-island state. They also allow for the appointment of an Opposition leader.