Mabaruma mayoral election ends in stalemate again

History has repeated itself in the Region One township of Mabaruma as elections for the Mayoral position ended in a stalemate again yesterday.

Contesting the elections this time around were Henry Smith, who was appointed Mayor by Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan following the council’s inability to reach a consensus in 2016 and Vibert Emmanuel, who was Smith’s opponent at the last election.

Stabroek News was reliably informed that after two rounds of voting, neither of the candidates managed to secure a majority vote.  As a result, the Councillors are expected to meet again on Thursday in hopes of arriving at a consensus.

During the last elections in March 2016, the council encountered a similar situation as several opportunities to elect a mayor ended in a stalemate.

Smith and Ashtrilla Gamell were subsequently sworn in as mayor and deputy-mayor of the Region One town by President David Granger, following a unilateral decision by Bulkan to have Smith take up the position.

This, however, did not sit well with the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) which had deemed Bulkan’s act “illegal.”

PPP/C Member of Parliament Anil Nandlall had, at the time, raised concerns and signaled the party’s intention to pursue the matter aggressively including “immediate litigation and protests” against him.

Bulkan in his response said, “I am unclear as to the interpretation of the PPP in deeming my actions illegal or unlawful. The legislation, according to the legal advice that I have received, allows that in the event of a tie for the election of a mayor, that following two such meetings that the minister is empowered to make a selection from among the candidates receiving the highest number of votes in the event of such a tie.”

However, on April 6, 2016 Justice Diana Insanally granted orders quashing Communities Minister Bulkan’s appointment of Smith as the Mayor of Mabaruma as well as orders quashing his appointments of chairmen and vice chairmen for the Woodlands-Bel Air, Malgre Tout-Meer Zorgen, Gibraltar-Fyrish, Industry-Plaisance and Woodlands-Farm NDCs. In each of these areas the APNU+AFC and the PPP/C won the same number of seats.

In court documents filed by Nandall on behalf of PPP Executive Secretary, Zulfikar Mustapha, Justice Insanally ordered that Bulkan’s decision to select Smith as Mayor be quashed on the grounds that the decision “is contrary to and in violation of Municipal and District Councils Act, Cap. 28:01, is in excess of and without jurisdiction, made in bad faith, is unreasonable, arbitrary, capricious, based upon irrelevant and improper considerations, mala fide, malicious, vindictive, unlawful, ultra vires, null, void and of no legal effect”.

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