While Government has already been accused of reshaping Local Government Areas (LGA’) aimed at cutting People’s Progressive Party (PPP) wins at the upcoming Local Government Elections (LGE), another issue has surfaced where one of the coalition’s Members of Parliament (MP) has been accused of forming a Community Development Council (CDC) within a tilted Amerindian community.
Deputy Chairwoman of Four Miles, Roxanne Rajab – a community located in Region One (Barima-Waini) – claimed that the coalition Government is pushing to form a CDC in the Amerindian titled village, when there are no provisions within the law to allow this.
Rajab told this media group on Tuesday that a meeting was organised on Monday by a few members of the community with the support of A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) MP, Richard Allen, and the assistant Regional Executive Officer of the Region One, Regional Democratic Council (RDC) Yvonne Shelto, where the idea was pitched to just a handful of residents.
In a letter that was dispatched to the Indigenous People’s Affairs Minister – signed by Rajab and three other persons, who currently sit on the Village Council – and seen by this publication, it explained in detail what took place at that meeting. According to the missive, persons were already selected to hold various positions, with the alleged support of Allen.
The Deputy Toshao explained that there is a handful of APNU/AFC supporters who are pushing this issue. She explained that the matter has caused some tension in the village and major disunity among villagers. Najab nevertheless reminded that a CDC cannot be formed within a village council, something that Minister within the Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Ministry, Valarie Garrido-Lowe has also confirmed.
Another resident explained also that because the village is managed by a Council where a Toshoa and Deputy Toshoa are elected, it is impossible for them to form an CDC. It is the sole responsibility of the Village Council to make representation for and on behalf of the people in that village. But no one from that Council were ever contacted or consulted before the meeting was held to pitch the idea of forming a CDC.
Region One Chairman Brentnol Ashley also confirmed receiving numerous complaints over this same issue. He told this media group on Tuesday that he has received calls from many concerned villagers and members of the Four Miles Village Council.
The Chairman recalled that Four Miles received their title sometime in 2015 as an Amerindian reservation. “This is the habit of this particular Member of Parliament and also activists of APNU/AFC of going into this particular community… and they try to intimidate, bully people… they are trying to create an illegal CDC. The RDC does not recognise any such CDC,” he stated.
Ashley has raised concerns before over the active participation and involvement of Allen in the affairs and functions of several State agencies and elected bodies in the region.
In February, he had pointed to Allen’s active involvement with the General Register’s Office (GRO) visiting team issuing birth certificates in the region. Ashley went on to disclose that he had even received reports of Allen personally distributing birth certificates in bulk to people in various communities.
With LGE due this year, birth registration documents are critical for the registration of voters and in the past, the Toshaos and other community leaders had been the ones who worked with the GRO team, since they were knowledgeable about the eligibility of residents in their communities.
Only recently, the Opposition raised concerns over 16 constituencies being removed from 14 Local Government Areas. The order for the removal of the constituencies was signed by Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan and published in an extra-ordinary gazette on June 7.
The PPP described it as gerrymandering in a bid to reduce their wins at the upcoming LGE.