The Local Government elections in Jamaica, which were due to be held by February 27 this year, has been pushed back yet again.
The Government on Tuesday (January 25) tabled in Parliament for a postponement of the municipal poll to next year, whilst rejecting the Parliamentary Opposition’s suggestion of a six-month delay, which would take the elections into the Independence period later in August this year. Local Government elections are constitutionally due every four years with the last one taking place on November 28, 2016.
The municipal poll due last year was pushed back to February this year. In tabling a bill for the postponement of the municipal poll during yesterday’s sitting of the House of Representatives, Local Government Minister, Desmond McKenzie argued that the coronavirus pandemic militated against the holding of the polls amid an explosion by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
According to him, “it is difficult to argue that the holding of the local government elections by the end of next month, important as they are, will not objectively be regarded as an occasion that will intensify the current fourth wave of COVID-19.”
Referencing the Opposition’s suggestion of a six-month postponement, McKenzie said this would see Jamaica heading to the polls sometime in August, adding that this might spoil the diamond anniversary festivities of Jamaica’s 60th year of Independence.
“I don’t believe, Madam Speaker that we want to get into an election mode in the celebration of our 60th year of Independence. The country has been through a lot and we need to celebrate the achievements of the country,” the Local Government Minister said.
The bill, which seeks to postpone the municipal poll is entitled, “The Representation of the People (Postponement of Elections to Municipal Corporations and City Municipalities) Act, 2022.”
In November 2020, the House of Representatives approved amendments to the Representation of the People Act to allow for the local government polls to be deferred up to February 27, 2022. However, in November last year, Prime Minister Andrew Holness declared at the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) 78 Annual Conference that there were no immediate plans for local government elections.
He told party supporters that with the new COVID variant and all the pressures of the virus, the time was not appropriate for politics and elections.