Friday , 23 February 2018
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Dorbrene-O’Marde - Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Reparations Commission

O’Marde Calls for Single-Issue Referendum

Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Reparation Support Commission (ABRSC), Dorbrene O’Marde, is distancing himself from recent calls for multiple questions to be placed before the electorate for the upcoming referendum on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC).

Speaking to delegates at the Antigua Trades and Labour Union {AT&LU) 77th annual conference at 46 North Street, O’Marde said recent history of referendums in politically divided countries do not have the desired outcomes.

He stated that the ABRSC fully endorses the calls for Constitutional Reform, however, it is wary of placing too much issues before the electorate as this may severely confuse and undermine the effort.

O’Marde noted that in granting independence to Antigua and Barbuda, the British entrenched a number of key institutions into the Constitution, including appeals to the JCPC, in such a way that they require referendums to change.

“The majority of people in parliament cannot vote to have us leave the JCPC for the CCJ, this has to come through a referendum with a special majority vote” He observed.

Against this background and noting the difficulties elsewhere where referendums are held, O’Marde favors an incremental approach to Constitutional reform. “The issue of Constitutional reform, when we look at those issues within entrenched clauses, tell us that Constitutional reform, is going to be a one-item by one-item process. Practical evidence seems to suggest that multi-question referendums in this Caribbean don’t seem to work,” he argued.

Addressing his comments to those who call for Constitutional reform before moving to the CCJ, O’Marde said the move towards the CCJ must be seen as the initiator of the process of Constitutional reform.

Therefore, he continue, he is making it clear that his support for the CCJ is connected to his support for Constitutional reform after the move towards the CCJ has been successfully concluded.