62 Kabakaburi residents barred from Village Council Elections
Kabakaburi residents occupying state lands believe that they are being marginalized because for the first time they have been barred from the Village Council Elections.
This is based on the premise they are not residing on the Amerindian reservation, though, all their economic activities are done on the reservation.
Residents are rejecting this “excuse” and are calling for a new election, where they would be included. They believe that their exclusion was purposeful owing to their intention to ‘vote out’ the former Council’s influence.
According to a resident, this new scenario is shocking since prior to the April 12 elections the Community Development Officer and a representative of the Amerindian Affairs Ministry assured them they could vote.
“According to the Amerindian Act once decisions are taken by villagers at community meetings they are supposed to be final,” the resident said.
What makes this situation even more shocking is that a resident of that section was once elected a Toshao.
It is alleged that only hours before the election commenced the 62 residents were informed that they cannot vote owing to orders from a high official at the Ministry.
The resident pointed out that the inhabitants were looking forward to this election to remove some leaders, who they perceived to be corrupt. Apparently, residents were calling for this election two years ago since they had no-confidence in the Council.
The newly elected Toshao is Cleveland Simon while the former Toshao is now a Councillor. Many residents are displeased that the former Council still has influence in this Administration.
The resident disclosed that on many occasions residents wrote to the Ministry and Region Two authorities appealing for an audit of the Council. They claimed that the body was not being managed with transparency and accountability.
The Council earns money from royalties from timber and presidential grants. Residents are expected to be informed of how monies are spent every three-months at community level meetings but these are seldom held.
In addition, Councillors are supposed to meet monthly but under the previous Council this was not done. These actions led residents to question how their community’s financing is being managed.
Citing an example of questionable transaction, a resident alleged that more than 100 passes for timber given from the Forestry Officer to the community are unaccounted for.
The resident emphasized that the elections also had discrepancies. It was alleged that the counting of ballots was not transparent since no counting agent was present for the other nominees.