We are once again approaching yet another Local Government Election which should democratically elect local representatives to run the affairs of their Local Authority Areas (LAAs). However, I have listened with disdain and disbelief as both the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) seem to be suffering intense delusion that the People’s Progressive Party is to be blamed for the currently stymied development of these LAAs countrywide.
In terms of local democracy, we have witnessed numerous instances in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) whereby there were efforts by the APNU and the AFC to fraudulently frustrate the electoral process by inserting as candidates many persons who were not backed by the people living in the respective communities such as Whim/Bloomfield and 51/Good Hope LAAs. This by itself being a fraudulent act, has more so damaged and frustrate the entire meaning and purpose of Local Government Elections and has denied the people to democratically elected representatives of their choice. Article 71(1) of our Constitution is seriously breached since it says that, ‘Local Government is a vital aspect of democracy and shall be organised so as to involve as many people as possible in the task of managing and developing the communities in which they live’.
It is therefore imperative that the people so elected should be competent to manage and develop their communities and have the support of persons in their community, at least 18 of those in the case of Neighbourhood Democratic Councils. A relevant question needs to be ventilated here. If a prospective candidate cannot even find 18 persons to back him or her, can we conclude that such a candidate is ‘fit and proper’? Imagine a prospective candidate has to cheat, deceive and commit forgery just to have 18 names to back his/her candidacy! Why would political parties go against the spirit and meaning of what local democracy is all about? Voters should beware of such political parties since they have already shown their true colours so do not expect them to deliver when they get into office. We have seen this played out at the last General and Regional Elections in 2015 and its aftermath! Has Local Government Elections truly returned democracy to Guyana? The answer is NO! The entire electoral process must be deemed to be free and fair!