Apr 13, 2016 News
Rain was certainly no deterrent to supporters of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) who travelled miles yesterday to protest on the lawns adjacent to the Ministry of the Presidency, against what they believe is a dictatorial move by the Minister of Communities following the recent Local Government Elections (LGE).
The protesting assembly displayed placards with slogans including: “APNU/AFC must let people’s will and laws prevail”, “APNU+AFC slaughtering democracy in Guyana”, “Basil Williams misleads Bulkan”, “The PPP says respect our votes”, “Return of PNC/R bullyism”, “The People Elect, APNU+AFC can’t select” among others, as they chanted “yes to democracy, no to dictatorship.”
PPP Executive Secretary Zulfikar Mustapha, in stressing the need for the protest action yesterday, told this publication that a decision made by the Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan – to name Chairpersons, Vice Chairpersons, Mayors and Deputy Mayors in several Local Authority Areas that secured equal votes by PPP and Government candidates at the recent LGE – is without a doubt a dictatorial tactic.
Mustapha related yesterday that when the equality of votes was observed after the elections “we approached the APNU (+AFC) and said let us have a discussion on the way forward. We even proposed to them that we should have rotation in these areas, because in those areas we had pluralities in four (areas)…and you could see that the people wanted their representatives to, at least, govern for sometime too. Everyone could have had a chance…but they went ahead, without our knowledge…arbitrarily and dictatorially Mr. Bulkan went and appointed Chairs, Vice Chairs, Mayors, Deputy Mayors in all of these areas and all those persons he has appointed were APNU candidates”.
Mustapha concluded that Government, through the actions demonstrated by Minister Bulkan, has embraced a dictatorial mode of operation that warrants protest action. PPP supporters, reportedly from Woodlands/Farm, Woodlands/Bel Air, Malgre Tout/ Meer-Zorgen, Gibraltar-Fyrish and Industry-Plaisance, and even some who claimed to be from outside of these areas protested yesterday.
The protest action comes even after the PPP was able to secure an injunction from the High Court to quash the appointments. The matter which was filed by PPP MP, Anil Nandlall, in Mustapha’s name, is slated to be heard on April 20, 2016.
The injunction was premised on the basis that Minister Bulkan acted contrary to and in violation of Municipal and District Councils Act, Chapter 28:01. But according to Attorney General, Basil Williams, at a press conference last week, the Chapter in question explicitly outlines that the Minister has the right to make the appointments made for the Local Authority Areas if the councillors cannot arrive at a consensus. He, moreover, deduced that the law was misconstrued and the applicants did not consider it in complete context, given that voters, as prescribed by 16:06 of the local government laws, would refer to the elected councillors.
But in justifying yesterday’s protest action, which he said is the first in a series of such actions, Mustapha said that “the people are highlighting the seriousness…they want development at the local level and they want to work with representatives who can help them to develop their communities.”
“This (protest) will not be the first…this will be a continuous process. The people will protest in the streets, we will fight in court, we will fight in Parliament, all our legal means which we could highlight these issues,” related Mustapha.
According to him, too, continued protest actions will be determined by further planning since “we are listening to the concerns of the people on the ground.”
In protesting mode yesterday, PPP Member of Parliament, Harry Gill, also emphasised that “we are protesting Bulkan’s dictatorship…this man, I think he is unfair and he’s out of control.”
The PPP MP recalled that the Minister in a solicited comment to him assured that he would be guided by the legislation in addressing the split vote issue. In further probing, Gill said that “I asked him (Minister Bulkan) what the legislation says, and he was not forthcoming…he said that I would have to wait to see. But this man has made the decision to unilaterally make appointments and we are against that. We feel it is not in keeping with the Constitution and the Rule of Law, and of course the judge agreed with us by suspending his instruction, so we now await a decision by the court in order to proceed.”
Gill continued, “We need to have a government that is responsible to the people; we need to have some stability in this country, not the same bullyism that is taking place over and over again.”
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