Mid-November has been touted as the timeframe for the hosting of this year’s Local Government Elections (LGE) and the exact date is expected to be released in two weeks’ time.
This is according to Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan who told <<<<Guyana Times>>>> that the date for this year’s Local Government polls “should be known within two weeks”.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Justice James Patterson, in a recent interview with this newspaper said the body has already commenced preparatory works and is now awaiting the date to roll out other aspects.
“There are some things that have to be done by so and so time but everybody’s waiting with abated breath for the Minister to announce the date because that would give us a time range when to start doing certain things. But whatever has to be in place is in place already,” Justice Patterson noted.
The GECOM Chairman went on to say, “The Minister know how we operate and I don’t think he will set a date that would embarrass us; have us hustling and shuttling… After he announces the date… there is nothing else new we will have to do… I can assure you we are on target.”
Nevertheless, Minister Bulkan in response to the GECOM Chairman said, “[Justice Patterson] is aware that it’s going to be mid-November but the actual date itself [will be known in two weeks]”.
This year’s Local Government Polls is said to be the first time in Guyana’s history that successive elections will be held. Since 1994, LGEs were held again in 2016 – one year after the current Administration took office.
Some $2.9 billion has been allocated for the elections with an additional $500,000 brought over from last year.
In preparation, for the LGEs later this year, GECOM has already commenced the countrywide registration to ensure that all eligible citizens will be able to exercise their democratic right to vote. The process commenced on May 21 and will run until July 15. Meanwhile, the Commission’s Voters’ Education Division is also active, raising awareness on LGEs.
The March 2016 Local Government Elections had recorded a low voter turnout; in fact, it was lower than the last elections held in 1994. The Commission had reported that out of the 507,584 people eligible to vote, only 239,070 people (47.1 per cent) chose to exercise their franchise.
Of the votes cast in the 71 Local Government Authorities (LGAs), 236,323 were deemed valid.
Justice Patterson had told the Press Division of the Ministry of the Presidency in a previous interview that the body is cognisant that every system must be in place in order for there to be a free, fair and transparent election.
“We started preparations ages ago because there are stages and we are at the stage now where everybody is doing something that the Statues of the Constitution say to do. We have reports coming in daily from all of our positions throughout the country. I think most of the people come at least weekly with reports so we have everything ship shape in that regard. We have more registrants as we speak, far more than when we began and that gives me some comfort,” the GECOM Chairman had stated.
Use filed pics of:
GECOM Chairman, Justice James Patterson
Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan