Local gov’t polls to go ahead on June 12 as High Court throws out APNU’s boundary challenge


By Kurt Campbell


The main political opposition – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) has failed in its bid to secure a postponement of Local Government Elections (LGE) set for June 12, 2023.

In a ruling on Wednesday, Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George dismissed an application by Carol Joseph, the Chief Scrutineer of APNU, seeking the postponement of the elections over boundary grievances.

Joseph, in her application, claimed that changes to 37 boundaries in 19 local authority areas by the Guyana Election Commission on January 31 was done in violation of Article 72 of the Constitution while the electoral body relied on Section 3 (1) (a) and (b) of the Local Authorities Act Chapter 28:03.

But after careful consideration and listening to arguments from both Joseph’s and GECOM’s attorneys, the Chief Justice concluded that GECOM did not have to follow the criteria outlined in Article 72.

Chief Justice (ag), Roxane George, SC

Joseph had also argued that APNU will be disadvantaged if the June 12, 2023 elections go ahead with the boundaries that have been set out.

But according to the Chief Justice, those claims are without merit, are prejudiced, and cannot be the concern of the Court and GECOM.

“That is asking the court to engage in partisan politics and that cannot be countenanced… there is no evidence to support this ground… it amounted to an opinion,” Justice George said.

Left only to consider the claim that GECOM should have only applied the consideration of Article 72 when combining or sub diving constituencies, the Judge pointed out that it is first the responsibility of the Minister of Local Government to divide Guyana into local authority areas.

The minister is guided by Article 72 in so doing.

Article 72 of the Constitution provides for the division of Guyana into sub-divisions as is necessary for the purpose of organising local democratic organs.

In doing the division, consideration must be given to, among other things, the population, the physical size and geographic characteristics, and economic resources.

“GECOM is not concerned with division into local authority areas, establishing or changing boundaries,” the CJ said.

GECOM is only tasked with ensuring the right number of constituencies so as to ensure matched representation with the number of specified councillors for each LAA.

Noting previously that the 2023 changes would allow for a more democratic local governance, Minister of Local Government and Regional Development Nigel Dharamlall said his changes were to reverse the 2018 changes to what was obtained in 2016.

The same boundaries used in the 2016 elections were the boundaries in place since the 1990s and only changed in 2018 by the APNU+AFC.

During the 2018 LGEs, the APNU+AFC coalition created new NDCs as well as collapsed and merged some NDCs which the PPP/C had protested at the time was for political reasons.

Fourteen areas were affected in 2018.

No boundaries were reduced in 2023 but in some areas, the boundaries were extended.

1 Comment
  1. Derk says

    ‘He who alleges must prove’. ‘It was destitute of merit’ .’Does not have the evidential weight’.(Patrice Lumumba) .

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