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Diplomats call for Local Government Ministry elections in Guyana – 9th Jan 2013

As Guyana enters its 15th year without Local Government Elections, there is a call by the American, British and Canadian Diplomats as well as the Head of the EU based here, for all involved to work hard to ensure that Elections are held sometime soon.

In a strongly worded  statement signed by the diplomats, Guyana is urged to seize its great potential in 2013  by ensuring that the Local Government structure is made strong and  effective in order to build communities that are safer,  more prosperous and democratic. Without Local Government Elections, the officials of all the municipalities continue in office unless removed by the  Minister of Local Government through a specified process.

The statement reminded, that at the 2011 Elections all contesting  parties acknowledged the importance of holding Local Government Elections and committed themselves to making that a reality once elected. The Diplomats whose countries provide significant development aid to Guyana, believe that one of the tangible benefits of having a strong Local Government system, is that it is one of the most important avenues for women and other under-represented groups to participate in development that affects them.

In what could be seen as expressing their frustration over the situation the representatives said that there are several reasons provided for the delay in the holding of the elections but said these provide no justification for them not being held adding that the institutions and practice of Local Government have withered on the vine since that time. They recalled that The National Development Strategy of 2000 developed with the help of the Carter Centre called for a Local Government system, with greatly increased authority, with the power to formulate their own developmental plans and strategies, and with the legal right, within clearly specified boundaries, to enact local laws, and to collect specified rates and taxes, as approved by Central Government.”

The envoys see the current situation as hampering development and a lowering of Guyana‘s attractiveness as an investment destination which is unfortunate since the country has been making strides in strengthening democracy. The last local Government Elections was held in 2004 and the elections are constitutionally due every 4 years.

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