Town Clerk, Royston King will officially announce the vacancy of the Constituency 3 seat on the Georgetown City Council on Monday, immediately after which he will write to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to have a by-election called.
With the death of Councillor Junior Garrett the constituency which includes Bel Air Gardens, Bel Air Springs, Prashad Nagar, North East and North West Campellville is without a direct representative on the 30-person council, a situation which according to law should be remedied via a by-election.
The Municipal and District Councils Act (Chapter 28:01) specifies that Town Clerk Royston King must at the next meeting of council, which is scheduled for February 12,2018, announce that his seat is now vacant.
According to Section 43(1) “wherever a vacancy occurs in an office of councillor the Town Clerk shall report the same at the next meeting of the council and publish notice thereof.”
Further steps for filling the vacancy are outlined in the Local Authorities (Elections) Act.
Specifically, Section 53A (1) of the Act as amended in 2015 clearly states that a by-election should be held if a constituency councillor dies before the end of their term.
“Where a vacancy for a councillor in respect of the first past the post number of councillors in a Local Government Area occurs as a result of death…the clerk of the council shall after compliance with the provisions of Section 43(1) of the Municipal and District Councils Act inform the Elections Commission which shall instruct the Chief Election Officer to hold a by-election and the Chief Election Officer shall carry out the instructions thereof,” the act states.
It however does not specify a time period during which the by-election must be held.
Staging of a by-election would be an early test of the Guyana Elections Commission under its new Chairman, retired Justice James Patterson. It would also prove to be a test for the governing APNU+AFC whose candidate, the deceased Garrett won victory with a narrow margin. Since the 2016 local government elections, APNU+AFC councillors have been severely criticised over a number of issues including parking and recreational spaces.