President Ramotar’s remarks at the Europe Day reception on May 7, left me disappointed, confused and extremely puzzled. In response to a call by Mr Robert Kopecky, Head of the EU delegation to Guyana, for the holding of local government elections, President Ramotar responded, “As far as local government elections is concerned I cannot be oblivious to the political situation that exists in this country and further I say not.” This response is unsatisfactory in itself, considering that Guyanese have been deprived of their constitutional right to choose local government representatives for almost two decades.
To add to my puzzlement, when Mr Kopecky called for the abolition of the death penalty and laws against same sex intimacy, President Ramotar said that he must take the views of the Guyanese populace into consideration.
Editor, President Ramotar cannot have it both ways. It is clear that Guyanese want local government elections. Therefore, President Ramotar should consider the views of Guyanese on this issue as well. The President alluded to Guyana’s democratic status in his response to the death penalty issue. However, such a status cannot be claimed, when Guyanese are not allowed to choose their local leaders. Nor can Guyana be considered a democracy when the people’s views are conveniently considered on some matters, while being ignored on others.
If President Ramotar wants the international community to treat his administration as a democratic one, then his actions must be consistent with democratic norms. There is nothing preventing the holding of local government elections: Gecom is ready, the laws are in place, elections are long overdue and the people deserve the opportunity to exercise their right to vote.
I call on the administration to declare a date for the holding of local government elections so we can finally cast our ballots, after twenty years.