By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan has announced March 18, 2016 as the date for the long overdue Local Government Elections in Guyana.
Bulkan made the much anticipated announcement during a press conference at the Ministry on Friday, November 20, 2015, where he pointed out that is an important time in Guyana’s history.
According to Bulkan, the elections are essential because the “entire local government system is currently rotten and must be rehabilitated and made fully functional.”
The elections were last held in Guyana in 1994 and in recent years several protests have been mounted and calls made for the previous administration to set a date for the elections.
As such, the Minister reminded that prior to the 2011 general and regional elections, the former PPP government had promised to hold the elections within one year if it was re-elected; however even though the PPP won the elections, the elections were not held.
When questioned, Bulkan made it clear that the APNU+AFC government did not feel pressured to set a date for the elections, even though they too made a campaign promise to do so.
Meanwhile, the Communities Minister explained that these elections are expensive and might cost more than general and regional elections; however he assured that there are financial resources to fund LGE, pointing out that the investment is necessary.
As it relates to the readiness of the Guyana Elections Commission, Bulkan said that the elections Body has a work plan in place, which includes an aggressive and intensive voter education campaign.
“When we elect new local leaders on March 18, 2016, we will be making a break with the ways of the past; the new leaders will not just replace the old ones. The new, democratically elected officials will be empowered according to law, and they will be expected to perform their decision making roles, according to law. They will not be subject to domination and control by central government,” Minister Bulkan told reporters.
He told the news conference that the new leaders will have the power to make decisions that affect citizens living within the respective municipalities and neighbourhood democratic councils.