Lots of work on constitution ahead

Representatives from the United Kingdom and Cayman have agreed to meet in early February for a third and final round of talks on a revised constitution for the Cayman Islands.

There were no fewer than ten issues identified by negotiators which remain to be worked out. The UK’s chief negotiator Ian Hendry said he hoped those could be agreed upon in the space of two days during the week of 2 February.

“We believe this new constitution, if an agreement is reached, will be a great improvement on the constitution of 1972,” Mr. Hendry said.

However, thorny issues such as final agreement on Cayman’s first proposed Bill of Rights and agreement on certain powers given to the governor remain.

The bill of rights issue, in particular was described as a “the most deal breaking issue” of the talks by Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts.

Mr. Tibbetts said he was hopeful the details could be worked out during the early February talks in London.

Other issues identified as sticking points by Mr. Hendry included:

*Questions about a Cayman Islands government proposal which qould require the governor to act in the best interests of the Cayman Islands. Mr. Hendry called this a “novel proposal” amongst the Overseas Territories who have revised constitutions recently.

*The powers held by the proposed National Security Council which would oversee police and border security matters.

*The precise definition of the governor’s power to enact legislation without the consent of the elected government.

*A Cayman Islands government request that Britain be required to consult with the local government before making Orders in Council.

*Term limits for the Premier’s office (which would supplant the Leader of Government Business)

*A specifically defined gap between the time civil servants leave office and the time they seek to stand for election to the Legislative Assembly.

*Issues relating to how much public debt the Cayman Islands government can carry.

*Determining how and when public initiated referendums can be held.

More information on the constitutional debate will be in next week’s editions of the Caymanian Compass.