By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – After hours of debate yesterday (September 09), the National Assembly finally passed the Local Authorities (Elections) Amendment Bill, which paves the way for the holding of Local Government Elections, which was last held in 1992.
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and the Government side of the National Assembly are at odds over the suspension of Standing Orders in the National Assembly so as to expedite the passage of the Bill.
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo initiated the process for the reading of the Bill asking the National Assembly to suspend Standing Order number 14 to allow for the Bill to be passed in one day, which was vehemently rejected by the PPP.
PPP Parliamentarian Bishop Juan Edghill flagrantly opposed the Prime Minister’s motion stating that it is a “serious injustice” and “insensitive” on the part of government.
According to Edghill, the Bill should be sent to a parliamentary select committee where it will be scrutinized clause by clause; however Governance Minister, Raphael Trotman pointed out that Standing Order #112 dictates that any standing order can be suspended as proposed by any member.
He said that the Opposition is engaging in grand theatrics to delay the passage of the legislation and ultimately the holding of Local Government elections.
Moving into the debate on the Bill itself, Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan rejected the notion that the government is being insensitive by seeking to expedite the passage of the Bill as proffered by Edghill.
He noted that the Bill will officially fill any legal gaps that prevent the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) from holding local government elections. Meanwhile, PPP Parliamentarian, Ganga Persaud stated that the government may not be serious about holding polls before the end of 2015.
In fact, he stated that the law dictates that elections cannot be held after the first Monday of December hence the rush to have it before the 7th.
“Waiting a couple more days will not hurt us,” said Persaud. Persaud also stated that “they are not serious about having local government election held on or before December 7, 2015…it is impossible.”
However after several hours of heated debate in the House, the government passed the legislation using its one seat majority.