Process ongoing for local gov’t polls-Ramotar

President Donald Ramotar says government wants to hold local government elections and the process is ongoing to put in place the necessary conditions.

Responding at a press conference yesterday to questions on a recent joint statement by the American, British, Canadian and European (ABCE) missions here on the need for urgency with regard to local government elections, Ramotar said the delay was not because of lack of desire on the part of the government.

“I don’t know what motivated them to do that,” he said, obviously referring to the ABCE joint statement. “I have my own views about that. But you should know about the history of the local government elections and why they haven’t been held. It has not been a lack of desire on the part of the government.”

He said a select committee in National Assembly is working on finalising the new system required for local government elections.

On Thursday, the government introduced the Local Authorities Elections (Amendment) Bill aimed at postponing the elections yet again, to be held on or before December 31, 2013.

Ramotar noted that local government elections were supposed to be held in 1997, but that after the general elections of 1997 there was no Elections Commission. Then in 2001, a commission was set up only to facilitate general elections in that year. He said that the Constitution Reform Commission came up with a suggestion that the local government elections should be held on a different basis without spelling out what the basis should be.

“So we had to negotiate that and this took some time. At the moment it is in the Parliament [and the committee] has been meeting for a year now. So whoever is calling for local government elections [should know that] I cannot hold those elections until those Bills [in Parliament] are passed,” he said.

In a joint statement, on Wednesday, the foreign missions said that 2013 is the year for local government elections and that there could be no justifiable reason for further delaying those elections.

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