The ruling People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) has agreed to one last attempt at bringing closure to the outstanding pieces of reform legislation in the Parliament for the hosting of Local Government Elections. President Bharrat Jagdeo made this disclosure while speaking to the media Thursday about the hosting of local government elections, but noted that the agreement was met with a high degree of reluctance by his party members since the elections are long overdue.
“We want to set a climate where we go to elections in 2011 with very little controversy,” President Jagdeo said.
In a recent meeting with the President, the Opposition People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) party members made known their unwillingness to participate in the upcoming elections without the successful conclusion of the pieces of reform legislation.
The Head of State said he however highlighted to the opposition the long absence of these elections in Guyana and the fervent but unsuccessful efforts of the Joint Task Force on Local Government Reform (JTFLGR), co-chaired by People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) member Clinton Collymore, to arrive at a consensus.
“That’s why we had to take this necessary step to move to the parliament to pass the legislation that was necessary to conduct the local government elections whilst we are working on the other bits of legislation. We don’t want further delay,” President Jagdeo said.
Local government elections were last held in Guyana in 1994, and following calls for reform of the local government structure, a taskforce comprising members of the Government and Opposition was established, to examine the changes needed and make recommendations for the necessary reforms.
The taskforce was able to reach agreement on two of the four areas identified for reform. However, a halt was called to the talks by Co-Chairman Collymore after it was found that agreement on the other two areas was not in sight.
The task force was terminated in April 2009, and was followed by talks between the President and Leader of the Opposition, Robert Corbin, to settle the stalemate before the Bills were tabled in the National Assembly.
The Local Authorities Elections (Amendment) Bill, the Local Government Commission Bill and the Local Government (Amendment) Bill, the Fiscal Transfer Bill and the Municipal and District Councils (Amendment) Bill were tabled. Three were passed: Local Authorities (Elections Amendment) Bill, the Local Government Commissions Bill, and the Local Government (Amendment) Bill
Most of the preparatory works by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) for the hosting of the elections have been completed, including National Identification Cards, the National Register of Registrants and the finger print cross-matching exercise.