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Bethel: Nov. vote could mean botched process

Guardian Senior Reporter

Published: Oct 02, 2013

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Constitutional Commission member Carl Bethel said yesterday he agreed with Commission Chairman Sean McWeeney that the government’s planned constitutional referendum in November is impractical.

Bethel said holding the vote in November could lead to a “botched” process similar to the January 28 gambling referendum.

“This was first stated and stated firmly by the leader of the Free National Movement (FNM) that you know we’ve already had a rushed and botched referendum and we don’t want to go down that road again,” said Bethel at a press conference at FNM headquarters.

McWeeney was quoted in The Tribune yesterday saying that it is unlikely that the government would hold a referendum next month.

In an interview with The Nassau Guardian yesterday, McWeeney noted that both the House of Assembly and the Senate have to pass legislation to enable a constitutional referendum.

“There is a process and certain things have to happen before you hold a referendum,” he said. “While it’s theoretically possible it would be a rushed job.”

McWeeney and Bethel are the latest people to suggest that the planned November vote is not practical.

On Monday, Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) President Rev. Dr. Ranford Patterson asked for more information from the government on the planned constitutional referendum.

Patterson said it would likely be another failed poll if the Christie administration does not act soon.

"Bahamians do not know what we are going to be voting for in another couple [months]," Patterson told The Nassau Guardian. "I [don't] think that's right.”

FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis and his Deputy Leader Loretta Butler-Turner have also criticized the government for not yet releasing more information on the referendum.

Last month, Prime Minister Perry Christie said the government still planned to hold a constitutional referendum in November and suggested that it will likely address issues of gender discrimination.

Christie originally said this referendum would be in June 2013.

McWeeney said he expects Christie to announce the referendum’s delay when he speaks in Parliament today.

The Constitutional Commission presented its report to the government in early July.  The document, which contained 73 recommendations, was released after nine months of meetings across the country.


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