The Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic on Monday condemned what it said was inertia being
displayed by Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) in the face of the gridlock which obtains in the town of Mabaruma and five Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs).
In these local authority areas, the governing A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) and the PPP/C gained equal number of seats, leading to deadlock after attempts were made to elect the Mayor and Deputy Mayor in Mabaruma and Chairmen of the five NDCs.
In spite of this, Communities Minister Ronald Bulkhan applied Section 13 (4) of the Municipal and District Council’s Act Chapter 28:01 which states, “where at an election two or more Councillors secure an equal number of votes the Minister shall direct which of those Councillors shall perform the functions of the office of Mayor; and that Councillor shall assume and perform those functions until such time as the Mayor or Deputy Mayor as the case may be is able to act.”
But, PPP/C executive Zulfikar Mustapha subsequently challenged the decision in the High Court, arguing that the minister ignored Section 13 (6) which provides that the Town Clerk shall appoint a date for the election of a Mayor by the people. This date shall not be later than December 28 of the same year – the next step after the council fails to elect a Mayor and Deputy Mayor.
Justice Diana Insanally subsequently quashed the appointment of a Mayor for Mabaruma as well as the appointments of chairmen of the five NDCs.
However GECOM is still to make its position known on the issue.
The PPP/C is maintaining that the law on this issue is clear and it mandates that an election by the people in each of the local authority area is the next mandatory step prescribed by law.
It added it is GECOM that the constitution has vested with the sole and exclusive mandate to conduct these impending elections.
“It is equally clear that the Local Government Elections of 2016 are not yet lawfully concluded and will only be concluded when these matters are resolved in the manner provided for by the law. Therefore, GECOM’s inaction in these circumstances constitutes a gross and reprehensible abdication of its constitutional mandate and statutory duty,” the PPP/C said.
It also called attention to the International Community, the observers of the 2016 Local Government Elections, and “all those who clamoured for these elections to be held are noting the subversion of the will of the electorate and the derailing of the democratic process that are taking place by the actions of Minister Bulkan and the inaction of GECOM.”
The government has already declared that it will be challenging the court decision to quash the appointment of the mayor and the chairpersons of the five NDCs when the matter comes up later this month.