Constitutional reform process to be driven by the people of Guyana – PPP GS

The People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) government has delivered on over 90 per cent of its 2020-2025 manifesto already, and the swearing-in of the Constitutional Reform Commission (CRC) marks the delivery of yet another promise made to the Guyanese people, according to PPP General Secretary, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo.

Speaking during a news conference on Thursday at Freedom House, Georgetown, Dr Jagdeo said, “We had promised, in opposition, in our manifesto, that we’d put in place a Constitutional Reform Commission to replace the one that APNU had done – headed by Nigel Hughes – which was almost like a PNC Commission to report to (former prime minister Moses) Nagamootoo. Nothing came out of that Commission. We’d said we use the same model we had used when we reformed the Constitution in the late 90’s – that is five from each political party. So, the government and opposition have equal numbers; and 10 from civil society…we now have put in place that Commission.”

Peoples Progressive Party’s (PPP) General Secretary Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

The PPP/C Government’s model for constitutional reform was laid out in its 2020-2025 manifesto and promotes the inclusion of all Guyanese in the review process.

“We are aware that issues concerning constitutional reform, particularly in relation to a national, inclusive governance model, management of elections, fiduciary accountability, enhancing rights of Guyanese and ensuring constitutional language is simple have been raised and discussed in the public domain. However, we believe that these, as well as other issues, must be part of a process of widespread consultation with the people of Guyana before being acted upon. The extensive changes to our Constitution under the PPP/C followed such a process,” the PPP/C Government said in its 2020-2025 manifesto.

The manifesto said too that it is committed to continuous revision of the Constitution and will ensure that the Committee on Constitutional Reform which will advance the work, will pursue nationwide consultation following the model used in the past, with half of the members from civil society and equal representation from Government and the Opposition.”


According to Dr Jagdeo, it is expected that part of the work of the Commission would be to educate the Guyanese public on the provisions of Guyana’s constitution.

He said, “You’ve seen the terms of reference of the Commission outlined in the law that was passed last year. They are tasked with reviewing the last Constitutional Reform Commission because there are many features there that people are calling for that they don’t even know exist in the Constitution.

“…part of their work would be educating the public as to what changes were made in the last reform process and how progressive our Constitution is compared to many countries in the world, including in the Western hemisphere. There are features there, built into our constitution, that no country in this world has….it is something we are extremely proud of.”

At a prior news conference, the PPP General Secretary had noted, “And if you examine the constitutional changes that were made and signed into law when I was President, it has made us one of the most inclusive countries in the world, in terms of governance.”  These included amendments to address the functioning of the Parliamentary Management Committee (PMC); five rights commissions, through two-third support; four standing Parliamentary Committees; the Procurement Commission; and the constitutional provision that addresses mandatory agreement between the President and the Opposition Leader on the appointment of a Chancellor and Chief Justice.


Notably, the PPP General Secretary made clear that constitutional reform is only one step, which must be bolstered by other measures. He cited the numerous violations of the constitution by the former APNU+AFC Coalition government, while in office from 2015 to 2020, including the unconstitutional and unilateral appointment of a chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) in the person of James Patterson, by former president David Granger.

Dr Jagdeo said, “All this talk about constitutional reform as though it will solve everything. If you have a party like the PNC that uses race as a mobilizing tool and, secondly, that wants to rig elections to get into office, you can’t change that by changing the constitution. They have to change themselves.”

He added that, importantly, moving forward is the voice of the Guyanese people.

“One approach, that we made clear, when the smaller parties were calling for specific changes, we said that this must be determined by the people of this country. The Constitution belongs to them. So, in the last reform process, we had widespread consultation; the changes were made…it is for the people to decide what they want; not for a particular party to decide what they want to serve their interests. The constitution belongs to the people…. we are not going to be captured by partisan agendas in this relation,” according to the general secretary.


Justice Carl Singh is the chairperson of the CRC while Attorney General, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC, Ministers Gail Teixeira, Dr Frank Anthony, Pauline Sukhai, and Kwame McCoy are the government’s representatives on the commission.

Other commissioners include Vincent Alexander, Sherwood Lowe, Nigel Hughes, Ganesh Mahipaul, and Timothy Jonas (representatives of the APNU/AFC and joinder parties); Attorney Kamal Ramkarran from the Guyana Bar Association; Aslim Singh from the Labour Movement; Derrick John from the National Toshao Council; Ramesh Persaud from the Private Sector; Attorney Kim Kyte-Thomas from the women organisations; Dr Josh Kanhai from the youth organisations; Attorney Keoma Griffith from the Christian organisations; Imran Ally from the Muslim organisations; Radha Krishna Sharma from the Hindu organisations; and Attorney Adrian Anamayah as the farmers’ representative.

The commission will review the Constitution of Guyana to provide for the current and future rights, duties, liabilities, and obligations of the Guyanese people.


In its bid to ensure constitutional reform, the government moved to the National Assembly with the Constitution Reform Commission Bill 2022, which seeks the establishment of a Constitution Reform Commission to review the country’s supreme laws.  The Bill was presented by Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Minister, Gail Teixeira. The Constitutional Reform Act was approved in 2022 and provides for the establishment of the commission, which is expected to lead nationwide engagements on the much-needed process.

The explanatory memorandum states that the Act seeks the establishment of the Constitution Reform Commission which will consist of 20 members.

Details of the Bill state that the commission will review the constitution to provide for the current and future rights, duties, liabilities, and obligations of the Guyanese people.

It is mandated for that purpose to receive, consider and evaluate submissions for the alteration of the constitution, and report its recommendations to the standing committee for transmission to the national assembly.

In conducting the review, the commission will consider the full protection of the fundamental rights of and freedom of Guyanese under law, the rights of indigenous people of Guyana, the rights of children, eliminating discrimination in all forms, and improving ethnic relations while promoting ethnic security and equal opportunity.

The commission will also, among other things, implement reforms relating to elections and the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), taking into consideration its composition, method of electing its chairman and members and its jurisdiction over national registration and electoral process.

The Constitution of Guyana is the highest governing document in Guyana. It came into effect on October 6, 1980, replacing the constitution enacted in 1966 upon its independence from the United Kingdom. Guyana’s Constitution was last amended on August 3, 2000.

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