TIGI Calls for Local Government Elections in Guyana
The Transparency Institute Guyana Inc. (TIGI) would like to add its voice in calling for the holding of Local Government Elections as early as possible. The last such elections took place in 1994 although the law requires them to be held every three years. In addition, Article 12 of the constitution states that local government by freely elected representatives is an integral part of the democratic organization of the State. This is reinforced by Article 71 (1) which states that local government is a vital aspect of democracy and shall be organized to involve as many people as possible in the task of managing and developing the communities in which they live.
The failure to hold local government elections is a denial of the democratic rights of the people of Guyana to choose who amongst them should manage the affairs of their communities. Ironically, this is the most devastating charge that the present Administration consistently and constantly levels against the previous Administration in relation to the latter's 28 years in power.
The state of disrepair of “our garden city” capital is testimony to the devastating effects of not having in place a system whereby citizens can periodically review the performance of elected officials’ and take appropriate action when such performance does not measure up to expectation. The same can be said other several other local government organs. Indeed, one consequence of not having local government elections for 17 years is the weakening of Neighbourhood Democratic Councils, and in particular their decreased financial accountability, as revealed in successive reports of the Auditor General. The inevitable lack of financial oversight increases the likelihood of inefficient and corrupt spending. In addition, the failure to hold local government elections is contrary to the Rule of Law and good governance.
TIGI notes with regret that the National Assembly had passed a Bill in February of this year for those elections to be held not later than 1 August 2014 but the Bill is yet to be assented. TIGI also took note of the statement from the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) confirming the Commission’s readiness once the Minister of Local Government issues relevant directive. TIGI urges the Minister to do so without further delay.
TIGI is of the firm view that the time is long overdue for the appropriate changes to be made to the composition of the Guyana Elections Commission so than it comprises members who are independent of the electoral process.
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