Embassies, civil society reiterate calls for early Local Govt. Elections

Embassies, civil society reiterate calls for early Local Govt. Elections
MARCH 6, 2014 | BY KNEWS |

The pressure is piling up for Guyana to hold local government elections early with a joint statement from civil society and three embassies yesterday  [March 5, 2014], signaling a growing unhappiness over the current situation.
Everything seems to be in place for votes to be cast as early as August 1st, the strong statement said.It has not been the first time that such has been issued, with the last a year ago.

This time, the British High Commission, Embassy of the United States of America and the High Commission of Canada made it clear that with new laws in place and the elections machinery ready, August 1st seems a very possible time. 

“The political parties have reaffirmed their desire to hold local elections and are making campaign preparations. It is therefore our hope, as the PPP/C, APNU, and AFC pledged in their 2011 election manifestos, that local government elections will be held…”

Also endorsing the statement are the Berbice Chamber of Commerce; Consultative Association of Guyanese Industry; Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Guyana Association of Women Lawyers; Guyana Bar Association, Guyana Manufacturing and Service Association,
Guyana Trades Union Congress, Justice Institute, Private Sector Commission and the Transparency Institute Guyana Inc.

With many of the 65 Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) replaced by Interim Management Committees after members either died or passed away, the absence of elections because of a political agreement for reforms has led to an intolerable situation. Corruption and mismanagement have been blamed on the breakdown in infrastructure with garbage and rates and taxes collection highly criticised.

The statement said that one year ago, a similar call for 2013 to be the year in which Guyana would move forward to ensure its citizens benefit from strong and effective local governance was made.

GECOM ready
“While 2013 passed without local government elections being held, significant progress was made to set the stage for these historic elections in 2014.”
The bodies pointed out that four bills establishing a “reinvigorated framework” for local governance were approved by the National Assembly with three receiving Presidential assent. “Together with the 2010 Local Authorities Act establishing the electoral framework for local elections, the legislative path to elections has been cleared. In anticipation of local government elections, the Guyana Elections Commission has been intensifying its preparations and expanding voter education outreach to familiarize people with the voting process.”

It was also noted that the Ministry of Local Government has been hosting seminars and workshops with stakeholders to promote voter education.

Even the Guyana Election Commission (GECOM) has said it is fully equipped and ready to stage the elections. Already, GECOM has demarcated the boundaries and constituencies in 69 of 71 districts, and each district has been targeted for voter education.

“Once a date for elections is announced, GECOM can begin the statutory steps required by law to hold local government elections. By all accounts, GECOM is well prepared and poised to ensure free, fair and transparent local elections whenever called upon by the government to do so.”

The organizations and embassies also said it recognized the statements of President Donald Ramotar in July that local government elections are “badly needed because many of the problems we face are due to the fact that we did not have local government elections.”
“The PPP/C, APNU, and the AFC have all begun campaigning in many Regions in anticipation of these historic elections. All of this augurs well for 2014 as the year of local government elections.”

The statement yesterday, stressing the importance of elections, said that as international development agencies have long recognized, the tangible benefits of local democracy go far beyond the act of casting a vote.

“Effective and efficient public administration coupled with healthy local governance can drive development efforts. Local government institutions bring government closer to the people, fostering greater inclusion, civic responsibility, empowerment and participation…”

Strange Opposition
Under the Constitution, local government elections should be held every three years.
The joint statement also pointed out that Commonwealth Charter to which Guyana subscribes refers to an individual’s “inalienable right to participate in democratic processes, in particular through free and fair elections in shaping the society in which he or she lives. Parliaments and representatives of local governments and other forms of local governance are essential elements in the exercise of democratic governance.”

The call yesterday would come about two weeks after General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Clement Rohee, said that his party will not support the Opposition request to hold Local Government Elections by August 1.

It would also come after the Opposition called for early elections.
According to Rohee, their reasons for not agreeing to the Opposition requests of holding Local Government elections, among other things, is because the power to decide the readiness for such elections resides with GECOM and not with the Opposition

During a press conference, he said that from his information GECOM is not ready for elections. “We get the distinct impression from our commissioners that they are not ready for local government elections. That’s why we found it strange because APNU also have representatives on the GECOM.”

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  • de castro  On 03/07/2014 at 10:31 pm

    Wish the squabbling stops and they get on with it….

  • Clyde Duncan  On 03/07/2014 at 11:32 pm

    Even in our local union administration, the constitution of the union instructs that the local president is ex-officio a member of all committees, except the elections committee. Once the elections committee is struck and handed their instructions, the local president has no jurisdiction or authority to interfere with administering of the local elections. Given my understanding, if the constitutional framework in Guyana is similar, then it would seem to me that local government elections are the bailiwick of GECOM. From here on, until the conclusion of the elections, the parties and the public should be relying on GECOM for updates, I believe.

  • de castro  On 03/08/2014 at 12:02 am

    Fair comment and the sooner the local elections are held the better.
    If power can somehow be returned to local level as per Swiss cantons
    the better. Local government should be more accountable for their
    action/decisions….get it wrong and get de-selected.
    Take that further ….local taxes spent locally with any unspent
    in their budget carries over to the next years budget.
    Its not rocket science….collecting Taxes efficiently with technology available
    today ….however my “gripe” is how efficiently/wisely it is spent.

  • de castro  On 03/08/2014 at 7:57 am

    Am not sure on the writings/wordings of the Union constitution as it
    applies to Guyana but it should be similar by affiliation internationally.
    It should be similar to cooperatives “one member one vote” without block
    voting….as all members are shareholders.
    Back to Google to check out cooperatives……
    As a member of cooperative and an outlet (store/supermarket)
    5 mins walk to my parade of shops from my house I receive a
    1% discount on my purchases…..I also vote yearly for the selection
    of a member on board of directors….most unions have similar
    written constitutions…
    Would be interested in GECOM operational status in LOCAL elections.
    Obviously they will announce the results in each area/canton/district
    of winners/runner-up/losers etc …after this am not sure how
    appoints will work…not sure on workings of Guyana s written constitution.
    In UK there is no written constitution ….Parliament debates and decides
    by majority vote and it becomes law.Any new legislation goes through
    Parliament first then goes to house of lords for approval before returning
    to parliament (lower house) for voting before it is signed by Queen to
    become new law.
    Similar to USA but OBAMA has to sign it into law…USA is a republic
    with president king….BRITISH royals were “kicked out” for wishing
    to apply Royal Tax….nobody likes paying taxes …especially rich
    but its a necessary evil (WMDW) weapon of mass distribution of wealth
    …my spin….kamtan

  • OBSERVER  On 03/10/2014 at 1:56 pm

    HOLD LOCAL GOVERNMENT and GENERAL ELECTIONS NOW. That’s all I have to say. People are tired of all the corruption in our beautiful country.

    • de castro  On 03/10/2014 at 2:52 pm

      Suggest you direct that suggestion to the blind local “media”
      …blind by default or willfully.
      Who owns the press in Guyana ?
      Who profits from it !!!
      My take

  • gigi  On 03/12/2014 at 3:19 am

    Why is the US, Britain, and Canada interfering in Guyana’s politics. Especially the US and Britain – two countries with such poor voter turnout and blatant corruption one would think they would concern themselves with what is going on in their own backyard. And Guyana does not want the Rob Fords of Canada, either.

    Interesting article below (don’t know why he left out Venezuela, since it’s recent and ongoing) describing the US and British atrocities and meddling in other countries politics. Do the Guyanese people want this, too? And do they want it to happen again?

    35 countries where the U.S. has supported fascists, drug lords and terrorists.


    • Clyde Duncan  On 03/13/2014 at 12:47 am

      Gigi: To address your comment in brackets (don’t know why he left out Venezuela …..) – Under 4. Brazil:

      “In 1964, General Castelo Branco led a coup that sparked 20 years of brutal military dictatorship. U.S. military attaché Vernon Walters, later Deputy CIA Director and UN Ambassador, knew Castelo Branco well from World War II in Italy. As a clandestine CIA officer, Walters’ records from Brazil have never been declassified, but the CIA provided all the support needed to ensure the success of the coup, including funding for opposition labor and student groups in street protests, as in Ukraine and Venezuela today. ….”

      • de castro  On 03/13/2014 at 2:28 am

        Once again USA is being embarrassed by its empire mentality.
        No one can ever rule the world…Hitler Obama Putin whoever…
        CIA MI5 KGB etal are all guilty of not only spying on each other
        but installing their own tinpot dictators around the world.
        Saddam one such dictator …who was removed for not
        complying with terms and conditions of his paymaster.

        A lot of information is now being declassified so we may
        have a better understanding of politics historically/internationally.
        There is a TV channel in UK that I follow ….Yesterday…
        which shows a lot of recent declassified info from ww2..
        Some very revealing scenarios of Nazism Fascism.
        Hitler marched into AUSTRIA with crowds cheering him.
        He then marched into Czehlovac but with no cheers of welcome.
        He then went into Poland after warning from UK ….
        FRANCE AND UK then declared war on GERMANY.

        HITLER wanted to have UK on his side to facilitate his
        taking of Russia…not wanting to fight war on two fronts.
        But this is all history now….although much more will become
        public knowledge soon.

        What is happensing in Ukraine etal just proves how naive
        US foreign policy negotiators are….how uninformed/ill informed
        they really are….historically.
        Once again Russia has won another round.

  • de castro  On 03/12/2014 at 8:07 am

    Gigi I love your pragmatic approach to political dogma.
    Unfortunately or fortunately history repeats itself.

    To calm things down….most of the western mentality mindset
    is colonialistic…Empire thinking. BRITISH AMERICAN RUSSIAN CHINESE
    …but I side with you that “politicians should mind their own business”
    Keep the noses out of other countries business.
    But reality bites…its the price one pays for freedom …

    Some say we are only free after our exit….and die in the belief of the
    afterlife….my jury is still out on that one.
    Freedom from mental slavery comes to mind…..BOB MARLEY.
    Thought control….Pink Floyd…..music calms the savage beast !!

    You are on my list of “rebels” I would love to meet !

    What Guyana needs right now is a revolution….without
    the blood shedding…revolution of thinking politically.
    The status quo in politricks stinks of dead fish.
    Not wishing to paint all politicians with same brush…
    Guyana has stagnated politically…check mate !

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