Speaking at a press conference this afternoon at the Ministry’s boardroom at Fort Street , Kingston , Whittaker said that King as well as City Mayor Hamilton Green , should await the outcome of appeals made by lawyers for both King and the Interim Town Clerk , Carol Sooba , before carrying out any further actions regarding the highly controversial post at City Hall.
According to Whittaker,”Mr Royston King is not the Town Clerk…..he is guilty of subordination among other things and he should re-examine himself”.
He said that prior to last week’s meeting when King was nominated by the Council to act in the position, he (Whittaker) had written to Green and stated that it was illegal in accordance with the law, for the subject of the portfolio of Town Clerk to be raised at the meeting. He said that he also mentioned that since the matter was still engaging the Court of Appeal, it should not be discussed or addressed at any forum at the Municipality.
“However, the meeting was held and King was sworn in illegally”, Whittaker said. As a consequence, he said that he has written to the commercial banks and informed them that the signatory of Town Clerk has not changed, that is, from that of Sooba’s. He further stated that it is the Minister of Local Government, who , in the absence of the Local Government Commission , who proclaims matters relating to the appointment of Town Clerk . “The position of the government is that the Town Clerk (ag) remains the Town Clerk (Sooba)”, Whittaker said.
Questioned on the subject of the Local Government Commission, Whittaker said that the body is not functioning. He stopped short of saying whether the government has initiated the groundwork to have the body established but he noted that 4 persons from each side of the legislature will be nominated to the commission. Elections will then be carried out to elect a Chairman. He said too that the body will have to be staffed and these were among the items which have to be addressed to have the body up and running.
Quizzed on the likelihood of Local Government elections being a reality this year, Whittaker said that since the requisite legislation was enacted by President Donald Ramotar , it has not been made “operational”. He said that the likelihood of the elections lies on a “political decision”, noting that systems needed to be put in place such as voter education in order to undertake the elections.
He said that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has to carry out its mandate of voter education which he noted is a continuous event. But while posed with a question regarding the readiness of GECOM which lies of the call of a date for elections, Whittaker stressed that the ministry also have to do its part on voter education.
He argued than in 1994, when the last Local Government Elections were held, there was only a 34% turn out from eligible voters. “Our voter education programme will have to be stepped up”, he said.