Tue | May 24, 2022

Local gov’t elections pushed back a year

Published:Wednesday | January 26, 2022 | 12:11 AM

Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie on Tuesday rebuffed Opposition Leader Mark Golding’s urgings for the Government to halve the one-year postponement of local government elections that were slated to be held by February 27.

In tabling the Representation of the People (Postponement of Elections to Municipal Corporations and City Municipalities) Act (ROPA), 2022 during Tuesday’s sitting of the House of Representatives, McKenzie said that the coronavirus pandemic militated against the holding of the polls amid an explosion by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

“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,” said McKenzie.

“It is with this at the forefront of the Government’s thinking that I must regrettably advise the House that we are here to seek its approval to postpone the local government elections beyond February 27, 2022,” he added.

The elections are expected to take place every four years. The most recent staging was on November 28, 2016.

Referencing the calling of a general election in August 2020 that was associated with an uptick in COVID cases, Golding facetiously questioned McKenzie’s grim assessment of the current surge, which contrasted with Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ more optimistic evaluation of the fourth wave.

He floated the idea for a six-month extension that could lead to Jamaicans heading to the polls sometime in August.

McKenzie, however, dismissed the six-month proposal, hinting that it might spoil the diamond anniversary festivities of Jamaica’s political 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,” he said.

asha.wilks@gleanerjm.com