Tue | Mar 21, 2023

Opposition says further delay of local gov't elections could set back democracy

Published:Monday | January 30, 2023 | 3:15 PM
She said over 12 divisions are now without representation, and the people within those boundaries are not receiving adequate services as provided for by the Representation of the People Act. - File photo

Opposition Spokesperson on Local Government Natalie Neita-Garvey is expressing concern that another postponement of the local government elections could be a "major setback to democracy".

The elections are due by February 27.

However, General Secretary of the Jamaica Labour Party, Dr Horace Chang, has conceded that the local government elections are not likely to be held by that time.

Director of Elections Glasspole Brown also told the Sunday Gleaner that the government has not approved the budgetary allocation needed to execute the election.

In a release to the media on Monday, Neita-Garvey said the latest indication of postponement "will compromise the effectiveness of local government authorities".

“It shatters the hope of reforms promised in the new Local Governance Act of 2016 and defeats the objective of removing local Government as a political football of central government”, she said.

The Opposition Spokesperson argued that several divisions are without proper representation due to the death of the last elected councillor, migration, neglect, or the election of the sitting councillor to the House of Representatives.

She said over 12 divisions are now without representation, and the people within those boundaries are not receiving adequate services as provided for by the Representation of the People Act.

“The government has had enough time since the last postponement to plan for holding these elections to fulfil the requirement of the Local Governance Act of 2016. Instead, the government is simply abusing the “power of the parliamentary majority” to do what it wants with our democratic system of government,” Neita-Garvey said. 

The country last had local government elections in November 2016. Constitutionally due every four years, the next polls were postponed in November 2020 for three months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In February 2021, the Parliament extended the delay by a further 12 months, making them due by February 27, 2023.

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