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A recent opposition statement revealed that, “One of the most frequently used terms of the Guyana’s President is “transformative”. It is apparent that this term is hollow rather than hallowed in relation to the President’s commitment to transformation and Meaningful Consultation.”
The statement indicated that in 2001, the constitutional reform process changed the process that Guyana inherited from the Westminster system that considered the institution of “Consultation” as a tenet of governance that merely required compliance to form, rather than any substantive impact on the decision-making process.
In the constitutional reform process of 2001, Guyana touted transformation in the sphere of Governance and in that regard sought to transform Consultation into a substantive act. Hence the Oversight Committee on Constitutional Reform recommended that the constitutional provision be enhanced. It specifically recommended that: “The National Assembly, in pursuit of the evolution of an inclusionary democracy, shall devise or cause to be devised, an agreed approach developed jointly by government, the commissions established by law, community representatives, and representative non-governmental organisations including political parties, that shall comprise a guide to a successful and effective consultation process”.
It was also recommended that: “This guide shall be monitored continually by the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Constitutional Reform with a view to assessing its effectiveness”.
The Parliament accepted the recommendation and legislated for Meaningful Consultations to mean: “a) identification of the entities to be consulted and specify to them in writing the subject of the consultations and an intended date for the decision on the subject of consultation; b) ensure that each person or entity to be consulted is afforded a reasonable opportunity to express a considered opinion on the subject of the consultation; and c) cause to be prepared and archived a written record of the consultation and circulate the decision to each of the persons or entities consulted”.
The opposition statement indicated that rather than following the spirit and letter of the Constitution as outlined above, the President has sought to continue in the outdated Westminster tradition OF FORM WITHOUT SUBSTANCE, thus ignoring the reasonableness and cooperation that the process requires. The leader of the opposition, Mr Aubrey Norton indicated that, “It is against that background that I will insist that any further consultative engagement adheres to the spirit and letter of the Constitution, failing which I will only defer to the ruling of the Court, in this matter.”