SVG broadcasts Constitution Bill debate to the world via Internet
Front Page
September 4, 2009
SVG broadcasts Constitution Bill debate to the world via Internet

The start of debate for a proposed new constitution for St. Vincent and the Grenadines attracted a packed public gallery in the House of Assembly, a clear indication of the importance Vincentians attributed to the issue.{{more}}

Vincentians from all walks of life journeyed to Grenville Street in Kingstown earlier this week to hear Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves start debate on the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Constitution Bill, 2009, followed by the response from Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace.

But the numbers in Parliament paled in comparison to the thousands who tuned in at home or at work to follow the national broadcast on radio and television; plus the hundreds more within the region and around the world who listened to the live audio stream or watched the first ever live video streaming of a debate from the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Parliament.

In fact, a check by SEARCHLIGHT revealed that combined, NICE Radio, NBC Radio and the live streaming from the public gallery of Parliament attracted just under 1,000 simultaneous Internet users at various times throughout the debate.

The debate, which the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) hopes will end with the adoption of a document that will eventually replace the current almost 30-year-old Constitution, ranged from routine, to humourous, to hotly contentious.

Vincentians around the world saw Gonsalves and Eustace defend and explain their respective parties’ positions on the draft constitution, Deputy Prime Minister Sir Louis Straker delivered a sermon-like contribution laced with biblical references that drew vigorous applause from the chamber, and Opposition Senator Daniel Cummings’ assertions were challenged so often by the Prime Minister that what should have been 45 minutes on his feet was extended to almost an hour and a half.

Speaker Hendrick Alexander was kept busy throughout the debate.

Also on hand to witness the debate on their work were the consultants of the Constitutional Reform Committee: Dr. Francis Alexis, Dr. Hamid Ghani and Parnell Campbell QC.

When the debate ends, however, Vincentians will have the final say on the proposed constitution in a referendum that is expected to take place in November. It will take 66 per cent of the votes cast for the draft to become the supreme law of the land.