Despite readiness for local polls, communities have eye on bigger issues

-Rohee

Despite being “psychologically prepared” for local government polls, Guyanese citizens are more concerned with big issues, such as the stalled anti-money laundering bill, according to General Secretary of the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) Clement Rohee.

“There is a growing mood in that direction,” Rohee said of his assessment of the situation on the ground.

However, he told a party press conference yesterday that he was charged with going into communities and addressing various issues and during his travels it has become clear that citizens were more concerned with the larger issues at hand. “More and more people are of the view they need to solve the big issues,” he said, adding that local government elections will not be a major facilitator in addressing these issues.

Rohee spoke generally about the larger issues, choosing to highlight the stalled anti-money laundering bill as a “fiasco.”

He said that he was not in any way belittling the pressing need for local government elections but that the urgency was not felt throughout communities. Rohee said that the PPP’s readiness could not be questioned however that did not mean elections would not be required to take the mood of the people into consideration.

In the face of calls from the opposition and civil society groups for the holding of the elections, due since 1997, the PPP has maintained that the electorate is not ready for the polls, saying more public education needs to be done.

In addition, in mid-May Rohee had revealed that he spoke with the new Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield. “The furthest I can go is to say there are still a number of issues, legislative and regulatory, that have to be put in place in order for local government to be successfully held,” he said.

The Guyana Elections Commission (Gecom) has stated that it can hold local government elections as soon as six months from the date given by the minister.

However, funds for Gecom to commence intensive public education exercises on local government elections will not be disbursed until government names a substantive date for the run off of the polls.

As a result, the Local Government Minister’s refusal to name a date for local government elections is preventing Gecom from carrying out the public education the government has said is crucial to holding the elections.

 

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