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President lashes back at diplomats’ calls for local govt elections

President Donald Ramotar on Wednesday reacted sharply to calls by the diplomatic community for him to call long-overdue local government elections on grounds that it was undermining democracy.

“What undermines democracy is when you listen to everybody’s telephone calls and read their emails and ban them from having collective bargaining in their own country in different parts of North America and Europe,” he told the Annual General Meeting of the Private Sector Commission (PSC).

The US administration has been accused by former intelligence agent Edward Snowden, now in exile in Russia, of hacking the email of private citizens and eavesdropping on telephone calls at home and abroad. That, Snowden has said, has extended to Brazil’s President, Dilima Roussef and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel’s cellular phone calls.

Ramotar’s comments came one day after United States Ambassador, Brent Hardt was reported by Demerara Waves Online News and the privately-owned Stabroek News newspaper as saying that government had no legitimate excuse to further delay calling local government elections.

The President said he was eager for local government elections but there were some uncertainties in the body politic. He disagreed that the lack of local government elections meant that  his administration was undermining democracy, a charge that was recently made by the United Kingdom’s High Commissioner to Guyana, Andrew Ayre.  The British envoy has bluntly stated that the delay in holding the local poll was unconstitutional and a violation of the Commonwealth Charter.

The President is already on record as saying that he would have to choose between going to local government elections or calling early general election if a likely blacklist by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF),a  global financial crimes watchdog,  hurts the country gravely.