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Gov’t maintains legality in appointing Mabaruma Mayor, NDC Chairmen

Attorney General Basil Williams and Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan

Attorney General Basil Williams and Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan

The APNU+AFC Administration is  maintaining that it acted within the confines of Guyana’s constitution when Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan moved to appoint the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Mabaruma and the Chairmen of five Neighbhourhood Democratic Councils across the local government sphere.

This follows a ruling by Justice Diana Insanally; who on Wednesday quashed the appointment of a Mayor the new town of Mabaruma and ordered the holding of fresh elections in those local authority areas.

However at a press conference on Thursday, Government’s chief legal advisor – Attorney General Basil Williams made it clear that the Judge misinterpreted the law.

Williams stated that Chapter 28:01 of Guyana’s constitution explicitly states that the Minister has the right to appoint the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and NDC Chairpersons for Local Authority Areas if the Councilors cannot arrive at a consensus.

He pointed out that Insanally misconstrued the law and did not consider it in complete context given that voters as prescribed by 16:06 of the Local Government laws would refer to the elected councilors.

He stated that the very legislation explicitly states that the Mayor and Deputy Mayor cannot be elected by the electorate hence it would be illegal to return to the polls for fresh elections for the very purpose.

It was noted that if the council fails to arrive at consensus for a Mayor at the initial meeting, another r meeting is scheduled; Williams said that both of these steps were taken before the intervention by Bulkan.

The Communities Minister on the other hand made it clear that the Councilors were duly notified by the Town Clerk and Overseers. He pointed out that they were also given an agenda which stated the sole objective of the meeting as the election of Mayor and Deputy Mayor in the case of Mabaruma.

Rupert Henry Smith talking the Oath of office as Mayor of Mabauma before President David Granger on Wednesday, April 7, 2016.

Rupert Henry Smith talking the Oath of office as Mayor of Mabauma before President David Granger on Wednesday, April 7, 2016.

He emphasized that there is nothing in Guyana’s laws that would allow the electorate to directly elect a Mayor and Deputy Mayor.

Asked what the government would do going forward, it was indicated that the government intends to challenge the ruling while abiding with the law as prescribed.

This would mean that Henry Smith and Astrille Gamell are expected to resume their portfolios as Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Mabaruma in the near future.

The Bulkan appointed NDC Chairpersons are also expected to resume their portfolios at the respective NDC’s.