The opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) hailed the recently announced abandonment of the CCJ Referendum, as incontrovertible proof that the will of the people always prevails.
The UPP said this conclusion has emerged, in spite of numerous attempts by the ruling Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) administration to force the issue, without providing for equal airing of both viewpoints on the CCJ.
The opposition adds that it, and a majority of the population, showed a preference for a multi-issue referendum, since the need for comprehensive constitutional reform has been long overdue.
To that end, UPP Political Leader Senator Harold Lovell made initial suggestions on several noncontentious conditional changes in his 18th March 2016 letter, to Dr. Francis Alexis, Chairman of the National Consultative Committee. The letter was never acted upon and it is evident that the ABLP administration had no intentions of facilitating a broader discussion on the path to comprehensive constitutional reform.
“Gaston Browne now recognizes that he is out of options in fulfilling his promise to enact judicial reform. Due to his complete mishandling of the process, the proposal for the CCJ has been met with widespread criticism and mistrust in many public debates, as an undesirable option in the governance of Antigua and Barbuda,” Lovell said.
He further stated, “It is also noteworthy that Gaston Browne had also publicly declared that if polls did not assure CCJ referendum victory, he would not pursue the process. Hence it comes as no surprise that Consultative Committee made only lacklustre attempts to advance the issue in the last year, with limited public comment. It is also eminently clear that this abandonment of the process occurred well before their most recent public comment, with full approval of PM Browne”.
The UPP views the public sentiments and reactions on the CCJ issue as an indication of the demand for a higher level of governance that relies less on partisanship and promotes more independent thinking among the citizenry.
“Good governance and democratization will be a key focus in our Policy Platforms and as a party, we pledge to foster full comprehensive constitutional reform with an open and transparent consultative process, prior to a multi-issue referendum,” Lovell said.
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