Local govt polls to be held by Dec 1, 2001

Stabroek News
December 17, 2000

Local government and municipal elections have been postponed once more following the passage of a bill in the National Assembly on Friday to amend the Local Authorities (Elections) Act.

Local government elections are now mandated to be held on or before December 1, 2001.

The bill, which was tabled in Parliament by Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Harripersaud Nokta, was passed without any amendment in spite of a motion moved by PNC member, Raphael Trotman, to insert a provision that nothing should prevent the election of the mayor and deputy mayor in every year as contemplated and provided by sections 9 to 15 of the Municipal and District Councils Act. Trotman's motion was not carried as government used its simple majority to vote against it.

Noting the arguments from the government benches, leader of the Alliance for Guyana, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, said that it was not enough for the government to just reject the arguments put forward to support the amendment, but to say what suitable alternatives there were. As elections had not been held in the last six years, he said that the situation in many councils at the present time bordered on chaos.

In response, Minister in the Ministry of Local Government, Clinton Collymore said that provision made by the Local Government Act, which was put in place by the former PNC government, was adequate for dealing with the absence of leaders of the councils as well as replacing them.

Appealing for support of the amendment during the afternoon session Trotman asked how could the rule of law be upheld when parliament kept on tampering with the statutes.

He said that while the Local Government Ministry was bending over backward to bring order out of chaos, he felt that was not sufficient to curb the inertia that has overcome the councils. The local government bodies were elected to function over a two-year period but they were now into their sixth year.

Trotman also had the support of his colleagues--front bencher Winston Murray and back bencher Joseph Hamilton.

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