In Guyana’s capital city where residents and businesses are forced to cope with blocked drains, piles of garbage and dilapidated markets, the first Town Hall meeting in Georgetown on Local Government sponsored by the American-funded Leadership and Democracy (LEAD) project was poorly attended.
The main opposition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), which has intensified agitation for Local Government Elections (LGE), was also poorly represented at the event that was held at the Queen’s College Auditorium. No known activist of the Alliance For Change (AFC) was also seen.
Although less than 20 persons were in attendance, LEAD’s Chief-of-Party, Glen Bradbury went ahead with his presentation that attracted questions and comments from three persons.
Bradbury, however, noted that three similar meetings that were held at Rosignol, New Amsterdam and Rose Hall were “packed.” “The people of Guyana in the places I have been to have come out for these type of meetings,” said Bradbury who hoped that the next meeting in Georgetown would attract much more attendees.
The LEAD official explained the Local Government System from its structure through registration to voting in the six towns and 65 Neighbourhood Democratic Councils.
APNU and the AFC on Wednesday agreed to not only support the no-confidence motion to oust the Central Government from office but also for the holding of long overdie LGE.
Georgetown is not only faced with poor sanitation for several years now, but the administration of the Municipality is mired in perpetual political bickering and actions such as the appointment of Carol Sooba as Town Clerk although she was the least qualified.
The last local polls were held in 1994. Attorney-at-Law, Saphir Hussain Subedar earlier this week moved to the High Court to compel Local Government Minister, Norman Whittaker to hold LGE because the almost 20 year long delay is a violation of Guyanese human rights enshrined in the constitution and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
Funded by the United States Agency for International Development, the US$1.2 million project provides for local government public awareness and education, and the involvement of parliamentarians, youth and women in political decision-making and policy formulation.
An effective Local Government system seeks to improve the living and working conditions, create the environment for small businesses to supply goods and services, promote social and cultural life, raise the level of awareness of citizens about their communities, maintain and protect public property, provide sanitation services and the maintenance of streets and street lighting.