– PNCR to hold internal talks
The motion to initiate mayoral polls for the city has been deferred, pending the outcome of talks within the PNCR after two of its members on the council acted on their own to force the vote.
At Monday’s statutory council meeting, GGG Councillor Llewellyn John, who moved the motion, successfully applied for a deferral to an unspecified later date. His application was seconded by PNCR Councillor Ranwell Jordan. John is also a member of the PNCR Region Four Executive, while Jordan held the mayoral post prior to Hamilton Green’s assumption of office in 1996. John said that the decision to move the motion was taken because the polls are long overdue.
But PNCR Councillor Oscar Clarke told reporters that the two moved the motion without the knowledge of the party’s executive which was yet to discuss the issue. “It’s a matter which requires internal discussions and those internal discussions have not taken place,” he said at the conclusion of the statutory meeting. “I, personally, as the leader of our group here, I said this is not the way to go about it. A decision like that has to be taken by the party.”
The motion to unseat Green raised eyebrows as the PNCR had vociferously opposed the mechanism that now empowers the local government minister to order the holding of mayoral and deputy mayoral polls at the request of a council. The recent amendment of the Local Authorities Election Act also allows the minister to unilaterally order the polls at any time for mayor, deputy mayor or chairman or deputy chairman of a local democratic organ.
Green said the legislation was passed with the aim of unseating him because of his opposition to the government. Although the deferral gave him a reprieve, Green could still have to face a vote.
Clarke yesterday explained that in principle, the PNCR supports the holding of annual polls for the posts, in keeping with the provisions of the Municipal and District Councils Act, Chapter 28:01. He added that the party’s concern about the amendment was the power it now vests in the minister, who has to approve all requests from councils. “The introduction of this amendment in the parliament puts a different spin on it; [it] puts it in the minister’s purview to determine if and when,” he added.
Last week, by public notice, Local Government Minister Kellawan Lall invited local government organs to apply for approval to hold elections for mayors. It is almost certain that he will order the holding of polls as the administration has long expressed dissatisfaction with Green’s stewardship of the municipality.
Local government elections have been due since 1997. Since that time, the government and the main opposition PNCR have been attempting to hammer out agreements on local government reform in keeping with the recommendations of the constitutional reform process.
Green’s GGG party won 12 seats at the last municipal elections, while the PNC won 10 and the PPP/C eight. The GGG, however, has been factionalised over the years, lessening Green’s chances of winning the vote. Although Green has been readmitted into the PNCR, he said he is likely to contest the polls on the GGG slate.