by Kareem Smith
The 18-year-old who had been preparing to become the country’s youngest member of the Upper House of Parliament, is struggling to make sense of the arguments of Independent senators who took issue with the proposed constitutional amendment intended to facilitate teenage representation in both the House of Assembly and the Senate.
Youth activist and law student Khaleel Kothdiwala, who had been named by Prime Minister Mia Mottley for appointment as a Government Senator once the amendments had passed, insisted that it is logical that persons allowed to vote in an election should be able to serve in the country’s highest decision-making bodies.
He also believes that by not supporting the other constitutional amendment aimed at ensuring the opposition is represented in the Upper House, Independent senators have placed President Dame Sandra Mason in an “awkward” position where she must “enter the political fray” to choose two senators from the ranks of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
Last Friday, Independent senators failed to support the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2022 which sought to reduce the age for eligibility to sit in Parliament from 21 to 18, and give the political party with the second-highest number of votes in a general election – in this case, the DLP – the opportunity to appoint two senators in a case where there is no Leader of the Opposition.
Although he made a case for both changes, more personal to the teenager was the rejection of voters ages 18-21 from the possibility of representing the people in either house of Parliament.