Cabinet yet to discuss new bill on time frame for local gov’t polls
More than seven months after the last piece of legislation postponing local government elections expired, Cabinet is yet to discuss bringing such legislation back to the National Assembly.
Local government elections have not been held in over twenty years. However each year the National Assembly can put off the elections until a prescribed date. The needed legislation was tabled by government this year, but was then amended and passed by the opposition parties using their majority, and President Donald Ramotar refused to sign it.
Asked last week when government plans to bring another such bill to ensure conformity with the constitution, Local Government Minister Norman Whittaker said the decision is one for Cabinet to make, and that it is yet to consider the matter.
The Local Authorities Elections (Amendment) Bill is the requisite legislative instrument for postponing local government elections and earlier this year government laid such legislation in the National Assembly seeking to postpone said elections to December 1, 2014 or any date before then.
When the bill came up on February 10th for second reading, the Alliance for Change (AFC) and A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) however had said that there had been enough delay and a motion to amend the legislation, moved by APNU MP Ronald Bulkan and passed by the National Assembly, stipulated that local government elections must be held by August 1. The government did not support the amendment and after it was passed it languished in the office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel (CPC) in the Attorney General’s Chambers for some time before it was sent to Ramotar, who eventually declined on June 2nd, 2014 to affix his signature on the grounds that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) had publicly declared that it was impractical to hold local government elections on or before August 1. Had the bill been swiftly assented to by the President, elections would have been possible by August 1st based on GECOM’s timeline.
The National Assembly’s staff had sent the bill in the first instance directly to the president in an effort to eliminate the delay experienced in the past getting legislation to the president’s desk for speedy action. However the bill was thereafter sent to Attorney General Anil Nandlall’s Chambers as, despite arguments to the contrary, …..To continue reading, login or subscribe now.