By Tracey Khan – Drakes
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Local Government Minister Norman Whittaker in attempting to defend Government’s failure to call Local Government Elections (LGE) says the ruling People’s Progressive Party Civic administration does not believe the relevant stakeholders are adequately prepared for LGE.
The Minister made this comment today (October, 19) while on the radio program ‘Hard Talk’ on 90.1 Love FM.
He however noted that Government has taken initiative to educate and inform voters of their rights. He also stated that this is no “talk shop”, but it’s about ensuring that voters understand and exercise their rights.
“We have determined that there is need for continuous and aggressive voter’s education on the issues of LGE elections, we do not want to go to elections where as happened in 1994, you had less than 30% of those eligible to vote, voting.”
Additionally, he spoke about the simultaneous calls that are being made for General elections and Local Government Elections by the political opposition Parties and noted that the fact that the three main political parties are not on the same page, brings confusion to the already controversial issue.
If this continues, he said general elections will take precedence over LGE and may be a repeat of what occurred in 1997.
“We couldn’t have both in the same year, that’s why in 1997 when the local government was due we didn’t have that, the national elections took precedence.”
Meanwhile, newly appointed board member of the Non-Governmental Organization ‘Blue CAPS’, Michael Leonard said they recently met with Chairman and other officials of the Guyana Elections Commission where the commission reiterated its readiness to host any election, particularly LGE.
Leonard also said they were told by GECOM’s Chairman that to commence another session of voter’s education would be aimless.
“If a date is set for six months down the road, a voter education campaign can begin so that the time between that voting and that date, that’s when you have that education going.”
Leonard believes that the electorate has not prioritized LGE as important. Local Government Elections was last held in 1994.