By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Constitutional Commission has recommended that the gender equality referendum be held at the end of April or at the latest in June, according to Chairman Sean McWeeney.
Mr McWeeney said the commission believes that timeframe will give the government an opportunity to “correct any misinformation” that may be floating around in the public.
“We recommended (holding the vote) between the end of April and June to get Easter out of the way. You know a lot of churches hold that week sacred and it is an important tradition,” he told The Tribune yesterday.
“It will also give the government time to deal with the misinformation that went along with the last campaign. The talk is beginning to die down now but who is to say it will not flare up again, it all depends on who is beating the drum. I suspect by that time, people will refocus their attention.
“But in the meantime the campaign is continuing and everyday the commission is somewhere doing something and making presentations.”
We are starting in the Family Islands this weekend and we will not slacken up, in fact we have increased the rate of meetings. It is not up to the government and the opposition to do their own things because we are not campaigning for or against, we are only presenting information.”
Last week , Dr Bernard Nottage said following consultations with the government, the opposition, the religious community and various sectors of civil society, the commission recommended to the government that a longer period of time be allowed for public education and national dialogue before a referendum is held.
As a result, Dr Nottage said, the government agreed to hold the constitutional referendum in 2015 at a date that will be determined “following consultations with the opposition, the parliamentary commissioner and the Constitutional Commission.”
Dr Nottage is the minister responsible for elections and referenda.
Several observers have said it is better to hold the vote early next year, to ensure that the public is properly educated and to clear up ambiguity and misconception about certain bills.
Last month, Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn urged the government to delay the vote with a view to ensuring the “flawed” process is corrected.
Bahamas Faith Ministries International pastor Dr Myles Munroe also suggested last month holding the vote in mid-2015 to help ensure its success.
The four Constitutional Amendment Bills were debated in the House of Assembly but are still in the committee stage.
It is unclear when they will be passed.