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Blue CAPS welcomes APNU’s demand for Local Govt Elections

Clinton Urling

The non-governmental pressure group, Blue CAPS, on Wednesday welcomed the decision by A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) to intensify pressure on the Guyana government to call Local Government Elections (LGE).

Reacting to Opposition Leader, David Granger’s six-day ultimatum that expires next Monday for an LGE date to be announced, Blue CAPS Executive Chairman, Clinton Urling said APNU’stance was welcomed though belatedly. “It took the opposition APNU a while to mount a toughened effort and apply pressure to the government to set a date for urgently needed local government elections (LGE).  Nonetheless, it’s better to be late than never,” said Urling.

Blue CAPS, he said, wants LGE so that new and vibrant leadership can permeate and infuse the historic halls with effective and accountable decision-making.

In a strongly worded letter to President Donald Ramotar, Opposition Leader David Granger threatened that APNU would “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 also wants the President to 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.

Granger has reminded Ramotar that the House 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.

With an Alliance For Change (AFC)-sponsored No Confidence Motion expected to trigger general elections by January, 2015 or earlier, Urling said that LGE would have to be put on the back-burner. “In the event the no-confidence motion is carried, then General Elections would constitutionally take precedent over LGE,” he said.

The AFC has since described APNU’s stance as “strange.” “We need to get rid of the PPP as early as possible and to negotiate Local Government Elections at this stage can cause a deferral of that process,” said AFC Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan.

Referring to the GUY$1 billion Central Government-funded and executed national clean up campaign, Urling called it a short term fix that does not address structural issues “afflicting our municipalities.” “We are less than optimistic that this initiative will achieve much and be sustainable….LGE is a necessary fundamental step to hold elected persons accountable for ensuring sustainable garbage disposal and waste management solutions,” he said.

 With the Town Clerk, Carol Sooba and the Georgetown Councillors, who were elected since 1994, at constant loggerheads, the Blue CAPS boss said that situation “also reinforces the need for LGE and the respect for the rule of law.” He said that the constitution is designed for the people to elect their leaders at the local level and for those leaders to represent their interest as a Councilor of the municipality. “These Councilors are expected to make decisions in the best interest of their constituencies.  However, in Georgetown we have an undemocratic development where an administrator of the municipality’s