By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Dr Steve Surujbally says that existing gaps in Guyana’s legal framework could prove difficult for the Commission to deliver Local Government Elections (LGE) before the end of the year.
The APNU+AFC government in its 2015 Elections Manifesto committed to naming a date for the hosting of Local Government polls in Guyana within 100 days after it took office.
The PPP also made a similar promise on the hosting of Local Government elections in its 2011 Manifesto but failed to deliver on that promise despite international and local pressure from the stakeholders.
The APNU and AFC in the tenth parliament had also passed a motion demanding that then President Donald Ramotar name a date for local government elections; however his motion was completely disregarded by the Executive who deemed it unconstitutional.
The absence of functioning local democracy has been blamed for several issues throughout the length and breadth of Guyana, but Surujbally told iNews on Friday May 29, that the legal framework needs to be addressed for GECOM to deliver elections.
Surujbally told iNews that while GECOM was still recovering from the May 11 General and Regional polls it has already begun preparations for LGE.
“After the efforts that were made and the energy that was expended…we are still recovering from that…there are several lacunae in the law that will have to be addressed if we are going to have it this year….It has nothing to do with GECOM it has to do with the laws being passed it parliament…you can go into Local government elections with a format that has no legal basis,” said the GECOM Chairman.
He pointed out that GECOM has commenced preparing “a budget and action plan for local government elections this year.”
In the tenth parliament, the Opposition passed a slew of local government reform legislations but only three of them were assented to by the Former President.
Ramotar signed into law the Fiscal Transfers Bill, the Municipals and District Councils (Amendment) Bill and the Local Government Commission Bill. He did not give his assent to the Local Government (Amendment) Bill.
The Bills would set the stage for full local government reform and prepare the way for the hosting of local government polls which have not been held in the past 20 years.