PPP willing to negotiate outside the courts − Rohee

Tied municipality, NDCs

The People’s Progressive Party/C (PPP/C) said Monday it was willing to meet with the A Partnership for

PPP General Secretary Clement Rohee
PPP General Secretary Clement Rohee

National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) Government half-way and hold negotiations outside the courts, to have the deadlock on a Mayor for the Municipality of Mabaruma, Region One (Barima-Waini) and chairpersons for the five Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) matters ongoing on the tied Local Authority Area (LAA), settled.

General Secretary of the PPP Clement Rohee said the opposition has decided on this course after the interest of the people was taken into consideration.

Speaking to journalists, Rohee said his party recognize the plights of residents in these tied LAAs, and the absence of functional councils since the March 18, 2016 elections are causing.

Another factor is the failure of the Guyana Election Commission (GECOM) to timely manage its constitutional responsibilities of ensuring by-elections that statutorily are due in areas that have tied LAAs, Rohee said.

“Equally important was the decision by the Granger Government, to impose and execute their solution, instead of negotiating,” he said, adding that this position is being maintained despite the ministerial appointment is in contravention of the laws of Guyana.

Rohee said the government has already rejected the PPP/C’s proposal for a rotation of the Mayorship in the case of the Mabaruma Municipality or the Chairmanship of the five NDCs and instead, imposed its own office bearers.

He said despite this, the PPP/C is again open to negotiations to iron out an amicable solution including a sharing of the position of principal office bearers in the tied LAA’s.

“The party, in the interest of those persons is signaling its willingness to re-engage in negotiation with Government to have a resolution”.

According to Rohee, his party’s Chief Whip Gail Teixeira had met with Government’s Chief Whip Amna Ally on the issue.

Further contact was made with Ally recently to set up a date for the re-engagement, however, Ally has indicated that she will not be available until after June 11.

He said rather than wait on the court, the party thought it could resolve this issue because it is the people who are affected.

The PPP/C had moved to the courts to stop Communities Minister Bulkan from illegally appointing a Mayor for the Town of Mabaruma as well as the Chairpersons in five Local Authority Areas in which the PPP/C and the APNU/AFC had the same number of seats after LGE.

Bulkan had appointed Kervin Crawford as Chairman of the Gibraltar-Fyrish NDC; Audrey Thomas as Chairman of the Industry-Plaisance NDC; Peter Livingstone as Chairman of the Malgre Tout-Meer Zorgen NDC; Carol Nurse as Chairman of the Woodlands-Bel Air NDC; Gershon Clarke as Chairman of the Woodlands-Farm NDC and Rupert Henry Smith as Mayor of Mabaruma.

However, the Court quashed these appointments and ruled in favour of the PPP/C on the grounds that they were contrary to and in violation of Municipal and District Councils Act Chapter 28:01 and the Local Government Act Chapter 28:02.

Justice Diana Insanally said the decision “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, ultravires, null, void and of no legal effect”.

And although the High Court had ordered that a date be set to host by-elections in the tied local authority areas, this is yet to be done.

PPP Chief Whip Teixeira had expressed concerns that the Guyana Elections Commission and the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change Government continued to disregard the rule of law.

Furthermore, she chided GECOM for abdicating its constitutional responsibilities of ensuring each local authority area has its leadership installed.

“GECOM must be reminded that the elections process of the March 18 Local Government Elections is at this point incomplete until the by-elections of the tied local authority areas are concluded,” she stated, noting that GECOM has a constitutional right to ensure these elections are held.

Earlier this month, GECOM said regarding the election of a Mayor for Mabaruma, Section 13(6) of the Municipal and District Councils Act, Chapter 28:01, states that, “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.”

As it relates to the five NDCs, GECOM said Section 28(6) of the Local Government Act, Chapter 28:02 provides that, if there is no election of Chairman on account of an equality of votes cast by the councillors present, “the overseer shall immediately fix a day within the last 10 days of the year for the election” by the registered voters, for the election of a Chairman from the councillors receiving the equal votes.”

In both instances, GECOM said it was still awaiting the notification for the date of the elections.