PNC proposes postponement of Local Government elections

Guyana Chronicle
June 6, 1999

THE People's National Congress (PNC) is proposing a postponement of Local Government elections, rejecting all preparations that have been done so far by the Elections Commission.

"In spite of our clearly stated objections to the appointment of Mr Doodnauth Singh as Chairman of the Elections Commission, the PPP/Civic Government appointed the said gentleman. The People's National Congress therefore cannot accept the validity of anything that he and this present Elections Commission have done in preparation for Local Government Elections," a letter from PNC General Secretary, Mr Oscar Clarke, to his PPP (People's Progressive Party) counterpart, Mr Donald Ramotar, said.

"It follows that even if a new Chairman and Commission come into being now, there will not be time for the necessary arrangements satisfactory to us to be put in place for elections to be held in October/November as your party has been announcing," the missive said.

According to the PNC official, his party was committed to the "principle" of holding Local Government elections, but will, in the circumstances, have no objection to a postponement "in order to ensure that they are held within the ambit of the new Constitution which will provide for more acceptable arrangements by all concerned."

Ramotar last week wrote Clarke proposing an urgent meeting between the two sides to discuss the establishment of a permanent Elections Commission under the formula introduced here by former United States President Jimmy Carter for the October 5, 1992, general elections.

But in a reply, Clarke argued that the Constitution Reform Commission was discussing the Elections Commission, and further talks outside of this could prejudice these discussions.

Ramotar then wrote Clarke again, stressing that the PPP "strongly believes" that there is need to amend the Constitution now, to facilitate the formation of an Elections Commission under the Carter Centre formula, to manage the proposed 1999 Local Government Elections.

However, the main arm of the governing PPP/Civic alliance has made it clear that it will have no problem holding the Municipal Elections under the constitutional model Elections Commission, if the formation of the Carter Centre formula fails.

Because of a PNC Parliament boycott for the earlier part of last year, the two thirds support needed in the House to reconstitute a Carter Centre formula Elections Commission could not be passed, therefore the Government has to resort to the model provided for in the country's laws.

This consists of one representative from each party with more than five seats and the Chairman named by the President.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples