The PNCR, the main constituent of opposition coalition APNU, last evening announced that it has formally launched its campaign for local government elections.
“The [party] is in full campaign mode,” the PNCR declared in a statement, where it also announced that APNU MP Winston Felix has been named as its Campaign Director.
Regional and District Coordinators have been selected, the party also said.
The announcement came a week after Local Government Minister Ganga Persaud announced that the Guyana Elections Commission (Gecom) was in elections mode as local government elections may be held by mid-2014.
The PNCR said it is currently conducting a nationwide education initiative to get its campaign workers and supporters ready for the long delayed elections, which were last held in 1997.
This weekend, the PNCR said, party leaders are in the Pomeroon-Supenaam (Region2); Demerara-Mahaica (Region 4); Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo (Region 9); and at Linden and Kwakwani in the Upper Demerara-Berbice (Region 10).
It added that party activists are currently engaged in continuous registration, door–to–door mobilisation and voter education.
Persaud recently told a news conference that approval had been given to Gecom to display elections-related material within all of the 71 local authorities comprising the six municipalities and 65 Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs).
There are even plans to ramp up public awareness exercises and Persaud said regional councillors will also be engaged so as to ensure that they are clear on issues relating to the electoral system under which the elections are to be held. He said while an exact date has not been determined, it was safe to assume that the needed preparation will be completed in time to host local government election by mid-2014.
Four local government bills were passed by the National Assembly on August 7. The Local Government Commission Bill, the Local Government (Amendment) Bill, the Fiscal Transfers Bill and the Municipal and District Councils (Amendment) Bill were hailed as instrumental to bringing about local government reform which was supposed to precede local government elections. However, to date these bills have not been assented to and remain in the Chambers of the Attorney General and the government has faced criticism over the delay in their enactment.
Gecom’s fifth cycle of registration is ongoing and the minister said the data collected from this process will be used to create the preliminary voters’ list.
Addressing claims that the government was afraid to hold local government polls any time soon, Persaud said he considered elections next year a prime opportunity to improve the government’s standing. There are continuous complaints about the inefficiency of the local authorities, he said, and he suggested that elections would provide an opportunity to replace the inefficient with the efficient.