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Granger announces protests for local govt elections; AFC says no-confidence motion is priority

AFC Vice Chairman Moses Nagamootoo

Even as Opposition Leader David Granger formally announced that A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) would be embarking on protests to pressure government into holding Local Government Elections (LGE), the Alliance For Change (AFC) said the priority should be passing the no-confidence motion to boot the Donald Ramotar administration out of office.

In an address to the nation that largely said nothing new but reiterated APNU’s call for the President to name a date for LGE, Granger said he had no other choice but to call protests.

“We have called on the President to simply set the date on which local government elections will be held. He has not done so. We have therefore embarked on a campaign of lawful, orderly, peaceful public protests – including picketing, rallies and vigils – to raise public awareness of the threat to our collective rights. We call on all Guyanese to join this campaign to challenge the President to hold Local Government Elections without undue delay,” said APNU.

For its part, the AFC acknowledged that each party had a right to engage in its own strategy and there was nothing negative about APNU’s call for local polls. “We do not want to create divisions between two engaging partners whose votes can make the no-confidence happen by saying ‘oh yes’ and we want to be critical of their call for local government elections. Their call is very legitimate and positive,” he said.

At the same time, he argued that the priority should be on the no-confidence motion. “Our position is that the no-confidence motion and a general election are priority and that’s our prerogative and we want people to respect that prerogative,” he said.

AFC Vice Chairman, Moses Nagamootoo hailed the no-confidence motion as the “political bulldozer” and “ramrod” that would remove the Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPPC)-led administration from office. “Unless we bulldoze the PPP’s Berlin Wall down, nothing will be done. There will be no local government elections so I believe that the way to go politically is ti ensure that the no-confidence motion so that local government elections can be held
under a new administration that is prone to respect and implement democratic norms,” said the AFC’s Presidential Candidate.

Nagamootoo reasoned that there was nothing to convince anyone that the PPP would voluntarily hold local or general elections. He said Granger has assured him that APNU would vote for the AFC’s no-confidence motion and there was no formal or direct indication from that parliamentary coalition that it preferred LGE instead of general election. Nagamootoo said he could only interpret APNU’s posture as a two-pronged approach to pressure the PPP-Civic administration.

“I can also read into that, that that is part of the pressure politics. If you have on the table on the NCM that is going to push government off and out office then open another door where you could test its ability to negotiate, you could test its ability to compromise.

“The failure of the government to respond positively to APNU’s demand may very well be the catalyst for the unilateral passage of that motion of no-confidence in the government,” he said.

AFC Chairman Nigel Hughes on Thursday called on government to immediately establish the Local Government Commission, which is provided for in the legislation for more than 20 years now, to make key appointments.

In his address to the nation, the Opposition Leader accused President Ramotar of presiding over an arrogant administration that has systematically underfunded the 65 neighbourhood democratic councils and six town councils. That situation, he charged, has led to no development and the poor delivery of services to residents. “The President’s attitude to local government has resulted in a near-total collapse in local governance. This is evident countrywide where our towns, neighbourhoods and villages suffer from unmanageable mountains of solid waste; unsanitary markets; unsightly surroundings and unlit and unsafe streets and alleyways,” he said.