Ahead of Wednesday’s Republic Day celebration in Trinidad and Tobago, Opposition Leader, Dr. Keith Rowley has sought to remind nationals of this country of the constitution’s role in society.
Via media release, Dr. Rowley said the Republican Constitution was drafted so as to ensure that all citizens, regardless of race, colour, creed or religion enjoy fundamental rights. He said The Constitution provides safeguards against acts by the executive and other bodies which may be inconsistent with the Rule of Law and is in fact the supreme law of the land.
Dr. Rowley said while it is agreed that there may be need to revisit the Constitution with a view to making it more relevant to the times in which we live, the PNM also acknowledges that any changes thereto should not be undertaken arbitrarily and not without taking the views of the wider citizenry into consideration.
The Opposition Leader is calling on all citizens to take time out to reflect on the manner in which recent changes to the Constitution were undertaken and the widespread public dissatisfaction which has been generated.
A vigil has been planned by the Movement for Social Justice- this ahead of this country’s Republic Day observation on Wednesday.
The MSJ says the Vigil which takes place on Tuesday from 6pm will provide an opportunity for ordinary citizens to express their dissatisfaction and concern with the Constitution Amendment Bill 2014.
The MSJ has opposed the Bill on several grounds, noting particularly The “Run-Off” system to elect Members of the House of Representatives and citing it as a system designed to frustrate and possibly deny “third (or fourth or fifth) political parties” from being successful in a parliamentary election given the culture and nature of party politics in Trinidad and Tobago.
The party argues that citizens did not have the opportunity to discuss and discourse on the merits or otherwise, of the “run-off” provision in the Bill prior to its introduction. The MSJ further accuses the United National Congress of engaging in partisanship by using its parliamentary majority to pass the legislation. It says that in such circumstances and having regard to the widespread criticisms of the Bill, including the conscience vote of two senior members of the government, the President ought to signify that he withholds his assent.