MSJ political leader David Abdulah. –
Political leader of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) David Abdulah has urged that July 3 should be the date for the local government elections.
He said he arrived at this date in keeping with legal requirements under the Representation of the People Act.
While the Government remained silent over the weekend about its next move, in the wake of last Thursday’s ruling by the Privy Council, which deemed as wrong moves to extend the life of local government bodies by a year, Abdulah was most vocal in saying the only route now was elections.
Lading lawyers and political commentators have contended that elected local government officials can no longer operate legally, given the Privy Council ruling.
In light of conjectures and concerns raised, calls and messages sent by this reporter to both Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, and Rural Development and Local Government Minister Faris Al-Rawi on Sunday for clarification yielded no responses.
Chairmen and mayors of both PNM and UNC-run regional corporations have said they have suspended services, including holding statutory meetings due this week, as they await a definitive statement from the Prime Minister.
Abdulah said the timeline for holding these elections should be determined only by the legal requirements under the Representation of the People Act.
Abdulah argued that this act specifies that the President issues election writs which must specify dates for nomination and the actual election date.
“There must be at least 14 days from the writs being issued to nomination day, and at least 21 days from nomination day to election day.
“The President will issue the writs on the advice of the Prime Minister. It is therefore the duty of Dr Rowley, given the Privy Council’s ruling, to advise the President of nomination and election day so she can issue the writs,” Abdulah said.
As to a time frame for Rowley to act and the date the election should be held, Abdulah suggested that as early as Monday, Rowley should announce July 3 as the date for the elections and June 7 as nomination day
He further advised that writs should be issued to the President no later than May 24, as any further delay will add to an already contentious political climate and cause more administrative confusion over the functioning of all corporations.
“We were clear from day one that the decision by Government to try and extend the life of local government bodies by a year was really a political decision to give the PNM more time to get certain things done before the elections,” Abdulah said.