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APNU holds firm to local govt elections; denies jostling for political space

APNU Chairmab and Opposition Leader, David Granger

A Partnership for National Unity (APNU)- vowing to pressure government to hold Local Government Elections (LGE)- on Friday said it was not jostling with the Alliance For Change (AFC) for political space.

Since the AFC tabled a yet to be debated no-confidence motion against the administration of President Donald Ramotar,  APNU has been ratcheting up calls for government to hold LGE for the first time since 1994.

“There is no jostling now. We are very consistent. I don’t know who wants to jostle me but I am not jostling anybody. I know where we are going,” APNU Chairman and Opposition Leader, David Granger told reporters.

He said also said that there were no back-door talks with the government about shared governance or power-sharing as a substitute for the no-confidence motion.

He evaded persistent questions about whether his parliamentary coalition’s priority was LGE or general elections. Instead Granger, reiterated that he was calling on the President to abide by the constitution and hold the local polls. “We feel that the constitutional abuse by the President must be brought to a halt and we alerting the international community, not just diplomats here,” he said. Organisations being lobbied, he said, include the United Nations. Organisation of American States (OAS) and the Union of South America Nations (UNASUR) to pressure government into holding LGE. “There is no way we are going to sit on our hands and allow this administration to postpone the elections for another year,” he said.

Asked if APNU was gearing up for general elections if the AFC-sponsored no-confidence motion is debated and passed in the coming weeks, he said his coalition was pushing for LGE. “APNU is getting ready for Local Government Elections and we will hold this government to account that the people of this country are calling for local government elections,” he said.

The Opposition Leader preferred to await the passage of the no-confidence motion while at the same time stressing that preparations were continuing for elections to the 65 neighbourhood democratic councils and the six towns. “We are prepared for local government elections,” he said.

Granger dismissed suggestions that APNU and AFC were sending mixed signals about LGE and general elections, adding that his stance was not sudden because the local poll campaign dates back to one year ago when his grouping launched its campaign at Golden Grove Village, East Coast Demerara.

He shrugged off suggestions that the private sector and the wider Guyanese populace would be worried about protests because of disruptions that come with them.  The plan, he said, was for peaceful, legal and orderly protests. 

Several civil society organisations and the Western diplomatic missions have called on government to hold LGE to help revitalise local governance because many office holders since the last elections have died, resigned or replaced by central-government appointed Interim Management Committees.