Mayor of Mabaruma can perform duties − AG

…despite court order to quash appointment

In light of the court order which quashed the appointment of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor in the township ofbasil (clean) Mabaruma, concerns were raised over the fact that the Mayor was still carrying out mayoral duties at Mabaruma.

Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams disclosed that there is nothing preventing the Mayor from performing duties.

According to Williams, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Mabaruma could continue their functions de facto, that is “unless and until the court rules”.

He said they were sworn in and as such they should carry out their duties: “You must remember that the Mayor was sworn in by the President, in other words, the Mayor has already then embarked upon office.”

Williams further explained that until an election is held to resolve the tie which forced Communities Minster Ronald Bulkan to intervene in selecting a Mayor for Mabaruma, the Mayor will continue to carry out his duties.

“When there is a tie, that is where we divide, under the Municipal and Councils District Act when there is an equality of votes or tie, there is a provision saying that there should be an election to resolve that tie until then the Mayor should continue his functions”, Williams explained.

According to Williams, former Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall omitted the fact in his court appeal, that it is the duty of Minister Bulkan to elect one of the two persons contesting for the position of Mayor to act until the election is re-held.

“Mr Nandlall when he pleaded in the court, omitted or concealed from the court the most important provision which is Section 13:07 which says that elections could only be held under the Local Authorities Election Acts, the provisions of that act is applicable to electing two persons, one of two persons contesting for the position of Mayor” said Williams.

This “important fact” William’s said, was omitted by Nandlall because he recognized the implications of that provision.

Meanwhile, Williams had pointed out that Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has no role in electing a Mayor and Deputy Mayor.

The role of GECOM is to conduct elections, he noted, whether General and Regional or Local Government. In the case of the latter, it is done pursuant to the provisions of the Local Authorities Elections (Amendment) Act Chapter 28:03.

GECOM’s remit is limited to the election of councillors in both systems, Municipality and Neighbourhood Democratic Council.

When the Local Government Elections was completed, GECOM’s remit also was at an end upon the issuance of a Certificate of Election to the Councillors, Williams said.

After Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan named Smith as the Mayor of Mabaruma, where the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) gained equal number of seats, the PPP/C moved to the High Court to challenge the Minister’s action which violated the Municipal and District Councils Act Chapter 28:01

Section 13(6) of the Municipal and District Councils Act which states that, “on account of equality of votes, the Town Clerk shall appoint a date not later than December 28 in the same year for the election of the Mayor from the tied Candidates by the voters whose names appear on the register of voters, for the time being in force, for the city.”

Justice Diana Insanally heard the matter and nullified Bulkan’s appointment.