President refuses to assent opposition- approved bill for local govt elections

Last Updated on Tuesday, 3 June 2014, 21:01 by GxMedia

President Donald Ramotar has refused to sign into law an opposition-approved amendment to one of the Local Government laws that would have seen Local Government elections held in another two months.

Using their one-seat majority, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) earlier this year approved an amendment to the Local Authorities (Amendment) (Elections ) Bill 2014 for the holding of local government polls on or before August 1,2014.

But President Ramotar on May 30 wrote House Speaker, Raphael Trotman informing that he was withholding his assent because the Guyana Elections Commission has publicly declared that it is impractical to hold local government elections”  by that date.

At the time the Bill was being debated, Local Government Minister, Norman Whittaker had told the House that December 1, 2014 appeared to be a more acceptable deadline to hold the long overdue polls.

Local Government Elections have not been held since 1994.

A Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) source in March had ruled out the holding of the polls in August because that elections management body needs at least 180 days to conduct and completeverifying the eligibility of candidates in each of the 71 local authorities and printing separate ballots for each local authority because the candidates will be different.

Usually, the commission needs at least 21 days before E-day to print the ballots overseas.

Although a number of activities can run concurrently, the source had explained that GECOM would need sufficient time to train trainers who will in turn train from presiding officers to polling clerks.