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GECOM secretariat could get “official” green light for local polls preparations next week

It might be the government’s wish to have Local Government Elections (LGE) in December of this year, but that depends on the readiness of the election body and the amendment of certain laws to make the long overdue process a reality.

Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan reiterated to media operatives Thursday August 13 that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has communicated that they are in a position to hold LGE in early December when an update was requested.

However GECOM has noted that there are matters to be resolved outside of its domain, if LGE is to be held. GECOM Chairman Dr. Steve Surujbally told Demerara Waves that LGE is possible in December, but there are those who make the laws.

According to him there are legal matters to be addressed such as training, how long the claims and objections period should last. These matters, Surujbally believes are already with the Legal Affairs Ministry. Outside of this there is the matter of demarcation, which Surubally believes will come under scrutiny by the opposition.

With these outstanding matters and LGE date only four months away, Surujbally suggested that there be no speculation, when it was suggested to him that LGE might not be held this year.

Minister Bulkan stated during his press conference that those issues mentioned by GECOM are “actively being addressed.” The minister said that there is no expectation that they (issues) will not be resolved or addressed that could cause any delay.”

Bulkan said GECOM’s last official word on LGE, “Is that the Commission will be having its next statutory meeting on the 18 August; (next Tuesday), they are expected to ratify and make a formal decision to go ahead with all activities with the holding of these elections.”

“At the level of the Secretariat, they are comfortable, confident that they have the capacity to ensure -that subject to the formal decision of the Commission- to go ahead commencing all of these activities so LGE could be held within the timeframe being announced.”

LGE is said to be the process that gives power to local communities and it has not been held in more than two decades. Former President Donald Ramotar had refused to sign what was considered that most important piece of legislation to reform the LGE process.

Since the last local polls were held in 1994, the local government systemin many communities has virtually collapsed due to death, migration and resignation of elected officials. In some cases, local organs have been mismanaged or starved of funds resulting in poor drainage, sanitation, roads and bridges.

That had cancelled the LGE promised by the former administration last year. The Local Government (Amendment) Bill was however passed in the Parliament recently, in the absence of the former administration, now occupying opposition chairs.