Councillors from the People’s National Party (PNP) are demanding that the Government reverse its postponement of local government elections to fill 14 councillor vacancies that now exist in divisions across the island.
In a bill tabled in Parliament on Tuesday (February 21), Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie led the proposal for the postponement of the local elections for the fourth time since 2016. McKenzie stated that the state was not financially stable enough to have an election.
He added that there are still consultations taking place to make Portmore the 15th parish and the further postponement of elections would facilitate the process.
But Mayor of Portmore Leon Thomas is demanding that the Government call the municipal elections, stating that many division are without representation.
“Within Portmore, we have one division that there is no representation from a councillor. We need the people within that division to have somebody that they can relate to and represent their needs. Throughout Jamaica I think you have approximately 14 such vacant divisions that have the same problem,” said Thomas.
Sharing the same sentiment is Scean Barnswell, councillor for the Hayes division in Clarendon Southeastern, who noted that the divisions are without representation due to deaths, expulsion, and the ascension of councillors to members of parliament.
“The fourth postponement of local government is appalling and is a breach of the democratic process. What this further postponement has done is deprive the people of the right to choose… the Government has been using its majority in Parliament to hold on to state power,” said Barnswell.
He added that further postponement deprives people of the opportunity to vote out councillors who are not performing.
The local government elections are due every four years, but have not been held since 2016. The elections were postponed in November 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and again in February 2021. The election was then given a further delay of 12 months, with a date of February 27, 2023 scheduled. But, the Government has once again pushed the elections to February 28, 2024.
– Send feedback to [email protected]