Government on Thursday said it is prepared to defend the authority and actions of Community Minister Ronald Bulkan in selecting Council Heads in areas where there was an equality of seats in the recently concluded local government elections.
The government’s statement follows a decision by High Court Judge, Diana Insanally to quash the appointments of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of the Mabaruma Town Council along with the Chairmen and Vice chair for five Neighborhood Democratic Councils.
The appointments were challenged by the PPP on the grounds that in the Mabaruma municipality and in the five NDCs, there were ties in the allocation of seats and therefore if there was no agreement on the head of the various councils, the parties should have allowed a by-election before the new Mayor or Chairpersons were installed.
The Minister of Communities had reportedly made a decision on who should head the Mabaruma township and the NDCs as a tie breaker. Minister Bulkan joined Attorney General Basil Williams at a press conference on Thursday where they vowed to challenged the PPP’s interpretation of the Municipal and Districts Councils Act.
Williams said the opposition party is now coming to cry like sour grapes when they had an opportunity to raise the issues before the appointments for made and after their elected Councillors participated in the process. He is contending that the declaration of Council Heads by the Minister of Communities were properly and lawfully done.
Mr. Williams said too that the government is confident that it can properly challenge decision in the court when it comes up before the Chief Justice later this month.
The AG trashed the PPP’s argument, saying that no where in the law provision is made for a return to the electorate on the election of Council Heads. He said that is a function solely for Councillors and defended the Minister’s right to intervene in a case of a tie. “The election of Chairmen and Mayors belong to the Councilors and not voters,” Bulkan insisted.
At a press conference earlier in the day, the Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo said he expected the government to arrogantly defend its position although the will of the people would have been ignored when even in the NDCs where the seats were tied but the PPP had the plurality of votes, the Minister still chose to install APNU+AFC Chairpersons.