Diego team: Diego Martin Regional Corporation councillors and aldermen following yesterday’s swearing-in ceremony at Ambassador Hotel, Long Circular Road, Maraval. From left, back row, are Irene Hinds (alderman), Jane Simon (alderman), Joseph Lewis, Robert Benoit, Michael Alonzo, Enroy Slater, Richard Mendez, Daryl Smith (alderman) and Mary Lou Veronica Ammon (alderman). Seated, from left, are Kathy-Ann Christopher, Gail La Touche, Kern Solomon, Catherine Mendez
and Roxanne Long. —Photo: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK
Tuesday deadline for Chaguanas mayor
Ria Taitt Political Editor
The election of the mayor for Chaguanas has to be done by Tuesday, People’s National Movement (PNM) Diego Martin North East MP Colm Imbert said yesterday.
“If the process goes beyond Tuesday and it is the fault of the Local Government Ministry or the Chaguanas Corporation, any political party would be entitled to go to court to get an order for them to hold the election,” said Imbert.
He was speaking to the media following yesterday’s swearing-in ceremony for councillors and aldermen in the Diego Martin Corporation, held at the Ambassador Hotel in Maraval.
However, Imbert was optimistic the deadlock would be broken. He said there was no way the deadlock in the Chaguanas Borough Corporation would persist, thereby opening the door for outgoing UNC mayor Orlando Nagessar to remain in office.
Asked if he foresaw Nagessar staying in office because of the Chaguanas Corporation’s inability to elect a mayor, arising out of the deadlock, Imbert replied: “No. Who is going to tolerate that?”
Told the UNC might accept this situation because it is their mayor (who would be in control of the corporation, tipping the balance of power in their favour), Imbert said: “But there are eight other votes (from the PNM and the Independent Liberal Party members) and I don’t think anybody would tolerate a situation like that for very long.
“Along the way, two or three of the political parties would support one nominee (for mayor). They can’t just keep voting forever and they will have to keep voting until someone gets seven votes.”
Imbert said he believed the Chaguanas Corporation was meeting on Tuesday. He said if the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) made the declaration of all aldermen yesterday, all the corporations had to elect their chairmen and deputy chairmen, mayors and deputy mayors by Tuesday.
“The law says four days after the EBC has declared the aldermen, the election of mayors must take place—Tuesday,” he said.
Asked what the PNM would do with respect to the election of the Chaguanas mayor, Imbert replied: “We have made it clear that we are going to nominate Mr Ronald Heera as chairman and invite the others to vote for him.”
Imbert said he saw no reason why the Chaguanas Corporation has not sworn in the councillors.
“I hope they would do it quickly. I hope that they would have the swearing-in ceremony (of councillors and aldermen) by Monday for the latest, to allow the election (of mayor and deputy mayor) to take place on Tuesday.”
Imbert said the system of drawing lots was inadvertently removed when the Municipal Corporation Amendment Act was passed, so that the provision for drawing lots to break a deadlock no longer existed.
“It was one of many oversights in the new law, which was rushed and badly drafted. The Government was in a hurry. They had a deadline of 48 hours to get it done (passed) and they weren’t listening and didn’t accept anything we said. So the law is a mess,” he said.
“There is nothing in there for an equality of votes and some of the time-frames don’t exist. For example, there is no time (frame) for the EBC to declare the aldermen. Previously there were time-frames.
“I am sure if they (the Government) had thought it through, we would not have found ourselves in this problem. There would have been a provision to allow for an equality of votes as occurred in Chaguanas. But they didn’t think it through.”
Imbert said the PNM will amend and clean up the law when it wins the next general election. He said PNM leader Dr Keith Rowley was absent from yesterday’s swearing-in ceremony of the members of the Diego Martin Corporation because he was walking in St Joseph.
Speaking on the advertising of the UNC in the St Joseph by-election campaign, Imbert said he had received calls about the “Dear Jack... from Keith” ads.
He said he did not know why the UNC would think a childish ad like that would influence voters in St Joseph.
Imbert said there had been no splitting of votes.
The People’s Partnership has disintegrated and the various parts have gone their separate ways—MSJ, ILP, and so on.
“People are just voting for the party they wish to vote for,” he said.