Friday, August 9, 2013

To postpone or not to postpone LGE: That's the question for the PP government

There is a debate in Trinidad and Tobago over whether the local government elections should be postponed.

It started after Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar told reporters on Wednesday night that some former councillors have suggested that the government should consider the option. 
PM at UNC National Executive meeting Wednesday night. Newsday photo
The life of the local councils ended on July 26 and according to the constitution the elections must be held not later than 90 days from that date. Postponing the election would mean that there would be no elected councillors other than the presiding officers such as mayors and chairmen of councils.

Persad-Bissessar has always stated that the PP government would hold elections when they are due.

She made it clear when she spoke with the media Wednesday that the idea of a possible postponement did not come from her party, the United National Congress (UNC). "As a party we have taken no decision I want to make that very clear," she said. 

She explained that the matter came up at a meeting involving former councillors. "A very interesting issue that arose was...the issue as to whether the local government election should be delayed," she stated, noting that several of the representatives who served on the councils asked about delaying the election.

“First of all for that to be done we have to go back to the Parliament so I would prefer not to comment on that until I’ve had further discussion with others. We have taken no such decision. It is something that was suggested, comes from the floor,” the Prime Minister said.

Opposition leader Keith Rowley, whose party postponed local elections three times, is demanding that the PM follow the rules and hold the election as scheduled. 

“What I expect to hear from the Prime Minister is an announcement of the date of the Local Government election which is under the law,” Rowley stated on Thursday.
"The law requires that a Local Government Elections be held within 90 days of the end of July so I don’t know what all this is about," Rowley declared.

"If there is to be a change in the policy in the life of Local Government that has to be done dealt with separately and apart from the requirement of the law and we will not be intimidated or diverted from that. The Prime Minister must comply with the law and call the election," he added. 

The Leader of the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) also wants elections on schedule. In a media release Jack Warner stated that the issue of postponement of the election should not even be under contemplation by the Prime Minister.

"The UNC and the Prime Minister were constantly vociferous in their protests against the former People’s National Movement (PNM) regime when the PNM postponed Local Government Elections," Warner noted.

"The UNC and the Prime Minister argued loudly – and correctly - that it was undemocratic to deny citizens their right to elect representatives and to be able to do so within the periods laid out in the Constitution which is the social contract between the People and the State," he added. 

Warner also noted the PM's promise that Local Government Elections – and all elections - would be held within the constitutional deadline. 

"It is extremely disappointing to learn that this subject is even entertaining the mind of the Prime Minister when given all that she has proposed to stand for, the question should have been shot down even before it was asked...the voices of the hundreds of thousands of citizens...should bear more weight than the voices of a handful of frightened councillors and politicians," Warner stated.

The ILP is launching its local election campaign on Saturday evening at the corner of Auzonville Road and the Eastern Main Road in Tunapuna.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai