CARICOM observers for St Vincent Constitution referendum

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, November 13, 2009 – When the nationals of St Vincent and the Grenadines vote in a national referendum on a new Constitution on November 25th, the polling will take place under the watchful eye of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) observer.

The CARICOM Secretariat has confirmed that it will mount an observer mission with the support of the Government of Spain through the AECID, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation.

“The presence of officials from the CARICOM Secretariat, was requested by the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines, and will allow for observation and documentation of the process, to be used in the official and historical records of the Community. These records will then serve as a point of reference for future, similar activities,” a CARICOM statement said.

The referendum is the first of its kind to be held within the CARICOM sub-regional grouping, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

St Vincent and the Grenadines was a British territory from 1783 until it gained independence in 1979 and has had the same Constitution since independence.

After several years of discussing the proposed changes with the public, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves’ administration is into high gear in its ‘Yes’ campaign that seeks to encourage citizens to vote in favour of the new Constitution.

But the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) wants them to reject what the Unity Labour Party (ULP) government has put on the table, saying that it does not deepen democracy or reduce prime ministerial power.

NDP leader Arnhim Eustace has said that other important matters pertaining to the Ombudsman, the Integrity Commission, the Human Rights Commission and the Electoral and Boundaries Commission have not been dealt with.

The government would need two-thirds of the ballots to be ‘yes’ votes in order to go ahead with the new Constitution.