Caribbean News in Brief as of October 28-09

GOVERNMENT ACCUSED

Georgetown, Guyana: The main opposition People’s National Congress (PNC) has accused the government of seeking to manipulate the boundaries for forthcoming local government elections.

The government has published an order declaring the number of councillors each voting area will have, even as the elections commission consults nationally on the boundaries.

PNC spokesman Alan Munroe called the decision reckless and provocative.

Local government minister Kellawan Lall said he issued the order so that preparations for the elections would go according to the timetable.

He said the recommendations from the commission were overdue by more than a week.

RESERVATIONS

Roseau, Dominica: The new president of the Dominica Bar Association, Levi Peter, says he is not convinced that the Caribbean is ready for its own supreme court.

The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the final court of appeal for most Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member nations.

However, only Barbados and Guyana have signed on to the CCJ’s civil and criminal jurisdiction so far.

Peter said he understood the argument that the region must be responsible for its own judiciary, but his reservations remain.

RENEWING CALL

Miami, USA: Haitian Americans in Florida have renewed calls for the U.S. government to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to undocumented Haitian migrants in America.

Their calls came as President Barack Obama visited Miami on Monday to raise funds for House and Senate democrats.

In July, Obama said he was sympathetic to their request, but no decision has been announced.

Executive Director of the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Centre, Cheryl Little, says she is not satisfied with the lack of attention being paid to the plight of Haitians.

CHARTER APPROVED

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: A new constitution for the Dominican Republic is headed to a revision committee before being submitted to President Leonel Fernandez for his signature.

Legislators approved the constitution on Thursday.

The new charter lifts the lifetime limit on presidential terms but still bars a president from serving more than eight consecutive years.

President Fernandez, who is in his second consecutive term and third overall, would not be allowed to run in 2016 but could do so four years later.

Controversial provisions include a total ban on abortion and the guarantee of private property rights over valuable, once public beaches.

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