Local Elections Jitters

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By The Piper

The PiperDuring the general elections last year the APNU+AFC promised local government election by year end of 2015. No delivery was made on that score but at least we know, finally, that March 18, 2016 will be the day of reckoning.

That is good news but it will also provide jitters for all the political parties, especially for the APNU coalition and APNU+AFC configuration. The PPP may be in a better position though not totally off the hook.

The first issue is whether APNU+AFC will stick together and run on a united slate. If they run together the PNC will gain, and the AFC will lose, because it will appear that the former is legitimate enough for the AFC to accept leadership from a competitor.

In that scenario, the PNC will no doubt use the weakening of the AFC to make bolder demands of its junior coalition partner because the AFC would have surrendered its political will.

A united APNU+AFC ticket is not good for democracy in Guyana because the independent voice of the AFC is needed. Many in the PPP and also in civil society had predicted that the AFC will wither away.

That has not happened. Yet, this is the opportune moment for Trotman, Nagamootoo, Ramjattan and the others in the top leadership of the AFC to establish their real bona fides. They must demonstrate that they are not simply tagging along, albeit with some cabinet positions.

Of course none of the other parties in the APNU coalition has the capability of mounting any kind of serious campaign. Now, if the AFC decides to run separately, the WPA would either have to stay out all together, because it would be in an extremely difficult position to publicly choose between its own senior coalition members.

What about the PPP? The election will provide the first test since May 11, of who is the heavy-weight in the PPP. Jagdeo as opposition leader would have considerable sway; but will he have his own way?

It is left to be seen if two old Cheddi men – Rohee and Ramotar, would attempt to develop an independent voice. Just as important, we will get to see if the PPP commitments to new and young faces emerge in the campaign rounds. The grassroots are not too pleased with the usual opportunities for family and friends and so Freedom House must ‘beware’.

Two local government elections in forty-five years is nothing to boast about, but on the bright side, local communities will finally have the chance to take leadership rather than simply talk about it. We would also hope that the skylarking that is endemic in NDCs would finally be addressed.

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