Monday, January 22, 2018

AG: People want the change


attorney general: Anand Ramlogan

Mark Fraser

The Government’s proposals for constitutional reform are not a disguised assault on democracy, according to Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.

Speaking on yesterday’s Morning Edition on CCN TV6, Ramlogan said the proposed changes, particularly the second ballot run-off voting, were what the people wanted.

The Prime Minister has said the run-off poll is proposed so each MP will only be elected into office if he obtains more than 50 per cent of the votes cast in a constituency.

 “The run-off is important as a matter of arithmetic that you do not have a minority member of Parliament because that would make the person vulnerable to a recall,” Ramlogan said.

He said a run-off poll is not new as it exists in many countries with stable democracies, adding that there were public consultations with the population on this specific proposal.

Senior Counsel Martin Daly on Wednesday questioned whether discussions were held with the public on the run-off proposal.

“The fact that Mr Daly may not have been consulted and the fact that he did not attend the public consultations is not my problem or the Government’s fault, because they were free consultations and anybody could have attended,” Ramlogan said.

Touching on the right of recall of an MP, he said as it stands now MPs do not service all their constituents.

He said an MP being elected based on minority votes encourages “UNC and PNM MPs” who focus on the small minority of people who vote them into office and ignore the rest of the constituency. He said this must not be so.

“An MP must know that he is liable to be recalled and every single constituent will be able to exercise their right to recall him,” Ramlogan added.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General revealed that when he drafted the law for a two-term limit for a Prime Minister, he excluded Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s present term, adding:

“I was amazed when she instructed me to go back and draft it in a different way to include her present term, so she has included her present term and therefore in 2020 she will exit politics as the Prime Minister of this country.”