Local Govt Elections: No precise boundaries, lack of consultation unacceptable- Jagdeo

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…says PPP candidates will consist of both party and civil society members

The fact that no exact boundaries for constituencies have been determined for Political Parties which will contest the Local Government Elections come November 12 2018, is “unacceptable.”

Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

This is according to Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo during his weekly press conference on Thursday.

“We’re seeking now the exact boundaries. Remember, Local Government Elections have been announced already. Nomination day is the 21st of Sept and we find it unacceptable that until now, we don’t have precise boundaries in many of these areas and that no process of consultation- which we believe is a basic tenant of good governance- has been embarked upon,” he said.

As such, Jagdeo explained that his party members have expressed these concerns during a meeting with the Chief Elections Officer of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Keith Lowenfield held recently.

“We’re going to see what the Elections Commission is coming up with…” he noted.

Meanwhile, the General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) went on to disclose that his party is working on selecting candidates from both the PPP and Civil Society.

“We want balance between an average 50% coming from the Party and 50% from Civil Society… These are people who are known in the area—people of good repute, law-abiding citizens who have done community work, religious leaders, young people in the youth movements—that calibre of people, from the PTA, policing groups etc. who may not be party members but people who have skills and can relate to the community,” he explained.

Moreover, Jagdeo went on to reveal that a list of 13 criteria has been defined so as to select the best candidates to contest the LGE.

“We have defined a list of 13 criteria that will guide our structures in selecting candidates and…We pointed out what kinds of commitment have to be made. What are the other qualities we’re looking for. One of the key issues is the finding time to attend meetings . We have found that some people, when you select them as councillors, because it’s not a full time job, they don’t get a salary so many of them are busy earning a living elsewhere so …we are going to ask right up front, the candidates, ‘would you have the time to serve and volunteer?’ because they may not have the time and therefore the work of the NDC or the municipality will suffer,” he asserted.

In addition, the selected candidates will also need to make time for mandatory training.

“They have to be prepared to commit time to train too because in the last three years we found a lot of people who did not get the time to come for training sessions, so we want our councillors to be well trained.”

Furthermore, another criteria the candidates must meet is that they will be committed to “support and defend” the positions campaigned on by the PPP.

In June of this year, an order to remove constituencies from 14 areas was gazetted. It was signed by Communities Minister, Ronald Bulkan.

Jagdeo has since accused the Government of allegedly making attempts to tamper with the system in preparation for Local Government Elections (LGE) through the creation of new Local Government Areas (LGAs).

 “We are very concerned with attempts to tamper with the [Neighbourhood Democratic Council] NDC’s Local Government bodies to gerrymander boundaries to suit [A Partnership for National Unity] APNU,” Jagdeo had said.

It was outlined that the LGAs which have been restructured are those where the incumbent  APNU/AFC Administration either did not contest, was tied with the PPP/C for the number of seats won or lost the proportional representation vote to the PPP/C by one seat.

Bulkan however, has denied any skulduggery on his part, outlining rather that the changes were done, for among other reasons, to address the lack of proportionality between population size and council size.

In the 2015 LGE, the APNU/AFC suffered a crushing defeat when the PPP received 30,000 more votes than both parties.

The PPP also won 48 of the 65 NDCs and tied seven others.

In summary, the party won or tied with 55 of the 65 areas that were contested.

They also won three towns, except for the newly created ones. (Ramona Luthi)

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