By Carl Croker
The waving of orange, red, green, yellow and many other party colours were part of the excitement in front of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) building on Waterloo Street in Georgetown earlier today.
A small crowd of enthusiastic political supporters had gathered in a show of support for their respective representatives who were submitting their Lists of Candidates for the upcoming Local Government Elections (LGE) slated for March 18 this year.
Both young and old were observed converging with banners and party emblems, chanting for their political representative as they entered and exited the GECOM building.
Among the groups gathered were a number of small parties such as The Healing the Nation Theocracy Party (HTNTP) headed by Ras Leon Saul. In an invited comment, he told members of the media that his party intends to bring a management view in dealing with issues, and he hopes to promote quality service in the city.
“In order to improve the city, the party intends to bring a mental and spiritual attitude, the enforcement of bylaws, making sure all maintenance works are done on time, among other things,” he said.
According to him, a challenging issue that needs to be urgently tacked has to do with our ability, or lack thereof, to “recycle”.
According to Saul, other matters which should be dealt with are the installation of more libraries, playgrounds and community centers.
Meanwhile, with the orange colour representing his ‘Independent Party’, Mark Benschop emerged from the GECOM building somewhat gloomy.
He disclosed to the media that “there is a slight correction to be made and we have agreed that unless that slight correction is made we are not going to submit everything”.
Nevertheless, Benschop informed reporters that his party intends to contest in all 15 constituencies around Georgetown. He further added that, if elected, he will improve City Hall by having it managed efficiently with a comprehensive audit being carried out into its operations.
Benschop also promised, if elected, to not waste tax payers’ money and to give better treatment to vendors.
A new face in the political arena is a group called ‘Team Legacy’ led by well-known radio announcer, Malcolm Ferreira. According to Ferreira, the group is a young, creative group of individuals identified by their white jerseys with the group logo on the top left.
He stated that the group “came together out of the necessity of having a love and understanding of what needs to be done within their community.”
He noted that the group is contesting as a voluntary grouping in six constituencies namely 6, 9,10,11,13 and 14. “We intend to have inclusivity where citizens get the opportunity to speak about what affects them and craft solutions to things that are happening in their communities,” said Ferreira when asked what he intends to do should he win.
Ferreira also urged the voting population to give the young people a chance since all the members of his group are “young and vibrant people”.
During today’s Nominations Day, all parties keen on contesting the upcoming Local Government Elections were required to present their Lists of Candidates to GECOM at the various stations across the country.
Contestants can include political parties, voluntary organisations and individual candidates who wish to run for leadership of their respective municipalities or Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs).
The newly-elected local leaders will have the power to make decisions that affect citizens living within the respective municipalities and NDCs; therefore, it is critical that each eligible person cast a vote when the time arrives.
Each participating party must submit its List of Candidates to the respective returning officers in the 71 local Government organs.
LGE Nominations Day slightly differs from the Nominations Day activities for a General and Regional Elections.
Each of the local Government organs will have its returning officer stationed at a prime location where all groups desirous of participating will submit their relevant documents.
The name and office of each returning officer is recorded in the National Gazette and widely published.
Guyana has 585 constituencies within the 71 organs, and as such, this means that there will be 585 ballot papers for each constituency.
In the General and Regional Elections, only 10 ballot papers are required.
PREPAREDNESS OF MAJOR PLAYERS
Meanwhile, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) will be contesting 550 of the 585 constituencies and will contest all nine municipalities.
The Party will be contesting the LGE as the ‘PPP/C’ with the ‘Cup’ as its symbol.
In a statement, it announced that it has struck the 50/50 balance between Party officials and civic candidates who will be contesting 70 of the 71 NDCs.
The Party said it was confident it would emerge as the winner of the majority of the constituencies and municipalities at the upcoming polls.
Meanwhile, the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) will head into the elections as a Coalition, as it did for the May 11, 2015 General and Regional Elections.
(Below are scenes from today’s Nomination Day activities outside the GECOM office in Georgetown)