NDC: Grenada referendum not important agenda now

NDC's Chairman Vincent Roberts at press conference in St George's on Monday, August 29, 2016.


The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is not enthusiastic about a national referendum slated for October 27.
   But there are mixed signals whether the party wants people to participate and vote “no” to the measures, or boycott it altogether and just not show up.
   Either way, party chairman Vincent Roberts said his party is not putting any resources behind any aspect of the proposed vote.

“The National Democratic Congress will not be focusing any resources on that, if people feel that they are sufficiently well informed and they wish to vote yes or no on a particular recommendation, vote according to your conscience,” said Roberts at the press conference here.

His statement that people should “vote according to your conscience” appears contradictory to another statement he made later in the press conference.

“I think most people should vote no, the people should vote no, because they are not informed,” the Chairman later said.

The “vote no” comment will be in keeping with the initial public stance of leader Nazim Burke, and to what is the currently declared stance by Labour Senator Ray Roberts, who openly caucuses with the party.

But the Chairman also appeared to have left the door opened for party supporters to cast a “conscience vote,” which, if he maintains it, will be keeping in line with earlier public comments made by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell that people should vote their conscience.

Previously, NDC leader advocated a no vote even though he said that his party was not opposed to the measures proposed. He had complained that they did not go far enough, and that other recommendations to include on the ballot were ignored.

In the latest comments on the issue, the NDC Chairman told the news conference that the party had done its own assessment and a referendum is the least important matter on the agenda of Grenadians.

His biggest beef was what he termed lack of information.

“I am not sufficiently informed and I think I read quite a lot,” said Roberts, who also described the proposed amendments as unenforceable.

He told reporters that there were aspects of the recommended changes that cannot be enforced in law, saying “It’s just nice writing”.

However, he did not elaborate.

Following two years of consultations throughout the country, Grenadians will vote in the referendum on the 1974 Constitution including one to replace to London-based Privy Council with the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as the island’s highest court.

In addition, Grenadians will vote on a fixed date for general elections, the assurance of an Opposition leader, the term of office of the prime minister and including the name of Petite Martinique and Carriacou, as part of the state of Grenada.