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Granger demands local govt elections, threatens action against Ramotar administration

President Donald Ramotar and Opposition Leader David Granger

Opposition Leader, David Granger on Tuesday demanded that President Donald Ramotar takes steps to call long-overdue Local Government Elections (LGE) or A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) will wage a domestic and international campaign to pressure government into giving into the demand.

Granger has issued the President a six-day ultimatum until September 15, 2014 to announce the date for local government elections to be held countrywide, issue the ‘Commencement Order’ to operationalise the Local Government Commission and to initiate a process by which the Local Government (Amendment) Bill could be returned for presidential assent.

“We wish to advise that, failing an announcement by you that local government elections will be held and that these legitimate democratic conditions are met, we shall be obliged to take any lawful action to mobilise national and international support in defence of local democracy, the Constitution and the rights of the Guyanese people,” Granger said in his letter dated September 9, 2014 to Ramotar. The United States (US) and Britain have publicly demanded that LGE be held because failure to do so is a violation of Guyana’s Constitution and International Law.

 Granger told the Guyanese leader in a letter that the opposition-controlled National Assembly had amended the Local Authorities (Elections) (Amendment) Bill  to provide for the holding of LGE by August 1, 2014. The President has not assented to that amendment on the ground that GECOM would not have been ready to hold LGE by that date.

The Opposition Leader reiterated that the need for LGE, last held in 1994, is enshrined in Guyana’s Constitution. “Local government elections, last held in 1994, are a constitutional obligation and a democratic entitlement of the Guyanese people. It is not an option of the executive branch of government,” he said.

Granger urged the President to respect the decision of the National Assembly and respect his 2011 General election manifesto that LGE would have been held one year after the national polls.

LGE has been delayed for several reasons including revamping the raft of related laws.  The three People’s Progressive Party (PPP)-associated Election Commissioners and GECOM Chairman have been at odds over their claim that the commission was not prepared to hold the local polls.