Ministry of Communities eyes legal amendment to calendar year term for mayors

The Ministry of Communities is to approach the National Assembly to amend the provisions of the Municipal and District Councils Act so that the term for Mayors and Deputy Mayors will coincide with that of office holders in the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils.

This is according to Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan, who was asked at a senior staff conference on Friday, to explain why municipal elections were held in December when office holders will maintain their positions until the end of March 2017.

He explained that these elections, while a bit premature, were held because the ministry wished to harmonise elections in the 71 local government areas.

Section 10 of the Municipal and District Council’s Act Chapter 28:01 states that the term of office for a Mayor and Deputy Mayor shall be one year commencing the first day of the month following their elections. According to Bulkan, in the case of NDC heads their tenure ends at the close of the calendar year and the ministry intends to recommend that internal elections for Mayors and Chairpersons take place at the same time; so the provisions in Municipal and District Councils Act will be changed to allow for the mayoral term to start at the beginning of calendar year.

He further explained that while all 71 local government areas have had elections, deadlocks remain in several of them, where equal numbers of councillors from the ruling coalition and opposition PPP/C hold seats.

Bulkan reminded that immediately after the elections he had proposed that the electoral ties be resolved by allowing the party which won the popular vote within that area to hold chairmanship.

This offer, though rejected by the PPP/C, is still on table even as Bulkan considers introducing legislation mandating that the terms of his proposal be the procedure followed in similar future situations.

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