BARATARIA/San Juan MP Saddam Hosein claimed that the Government is upset about having to call local government elections after the Privy Council ruled on May 18, that a decision to extend the life of local government corporations by one year was unlawful.
He made this claim in his contribution to debate on the Municipal Corporations (Extension of Terms of Office and Validation) Bill 2023, in the House of Representatives on Monday.
In its judgment, the Privy Council said the extension of the life of local government bodies was unlawful. But it did not deem the extension a constitutional breach or that it deprived people of the right to vote.
On this point, Hosein said this was obvious because local government does not have any measures enshrined in the Constitution to protect it. He observed that Guyana has such safeguards for local government in its constitution.
Hosein claimed there was one reason why Government was reluctant to accept the core of the judgment which deemed the extension to be unlawful.
"They have a tabanca when they lose."
He said it was unfortunate that it took "a court in England to tell TT what to do (regarding local government elections)."
Hosein claimed that by extending the life of local government corporations, the Government substituted for the electorate.
He agreed with Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar that the terms of office of local government councillors and aldermen had expired.
Against that background, Hosein asked what actions was the bill designed to validate.
He demanded that the Prime Minister be "pellucidly clear in this House today and call the election date."
Earlier in the sitting, Rural Development and Local Government Minister Faris Al-Rawi said local government elections were postponed seven times in the past.
There was no sinister attempt behind any of those postponements.
He cited election postponements in 2002-03, 2003-2006 and 2006-2010, as periods used to implement local government reform.
Al-Rawi said those efforts did not work because the UNC does not want local government reform.