Cayman’s new Constitution will not be developed in secret and then rammed down the throat of the country, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts pledged in the House Thursday.
‘Under this PPM government, there will be widespread consultation and ultimately, the country will be given the opportunity to say yea or nay to the proposed Constitution by way of referendum,’ he said in a statement on the recent constitutional talks with a visiting team from the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The Government intends to consult widely and then proceed to the negotiation stage, he said.
‘Once the negotiation stage is successfully completed, we intend that the resulting draft constitution will be published and widely discussed.
‘Then in due course a referendum will be held to determine whether it is acceptable to the people of the Cayman Islands,’ he said.
At the Cabinet press briefing on Friday, Mr. Tibbetts was asked what would happen if the Constitution were rejected in a referendum.
‘If the referendum delivers a no vote, we’d have to go back to the public to see what it wants,’ Mr. Tibbetts said. ‘I would say though it would almost be inept to go that far and not know what the public wants.’
For that reason, Mr. Tibbetts said it will be important to conduct the public consultation process in the correct manner, and to cover the issue in depth.
Before the public consultation process begins, consolidated copies of Cayman’s current Constitution along with copies of the 2003 Draft Constitution would be made available to the public, Mr. Tibbetts said, adding that the public will be updated through the media regularly about the constitutional modernisation process as it moves forward.
After the initial consultation stage and prior to the negotiation stage with the UK, Government will also meet with the Opposition ‘because it’s a democratic process’, Mr. Tibbetts said, adding that non-governmental organisations will also be brought into these meetings if there is a need.
‘We will get together and try to come to a consensus on the various points to ensure we’re not at odds with each other as far as possible.’
Mr. Tibbetts said the exact details of how the referendum will work had not been decided.
Nor is there an exact timeline for the process leading up to the referendum, which Mr. Tibbetts said would occur whenever the government is satisfied that it has gone through all the necessary steps.
‘We’re confident the people will drive the process,’ he said. ‘They won’t want this to linger to after another election.’
Mr. Tibbetts said the UK was still very desirous of supporting Cayman’s efforts of getting a modern Constitution.
‘The team from London made it very clear to us during the course of our meetings… that is it ready and willing to facilitate the constitutional modernisation process for the Cayman Islands in a manner that satisfies them that whatever we come to them with represents the wishes and aspirations of the public.’