Small joinder parties pull out of upcoming LGE

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
TNM Leader, Dr Asha Kissoon

– TNM’s Dr Asha Kissoon to take up MP post

As the date nears for the hosting of Local Government Elections, some small parties will not be contesting the polls. This has been confirmed by two parties on the Joinder List – The New Movement (TNM) and A New and United Guyana (ANUG) on Friday.

At a press conference, Leader of the TNM, Dr Asha Kissoon engaged the media as she replaces Leader of the Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), Lennox Shuman as a Member of Parliament (MP). There, she announced that her party will focus on other priority areas.

“TNM is not contesting Local Government Elections. Our resources right now and the timing are not ideal for us. Right now, we will be focusing on our seat and how we will use it to instigate some policies to help our following,” Dr Kissoon contended.

In addition, the new Chairman of ANUG, Dr Mark France shared the same position, adding that his party would be unable to contest the upcoming local polls but encouraged independent candidates to submit their symbols.

“The Executive would have had discussions on the topic of Local Government Elections since last November when we had our internal elections and it was the decision of the Executive then in consultation with the members that at this sitting, we’re unable to take part in Local Government Elections as a party…We’re willing to support any independent candidate who is taking part.”

Local Government and Regional Development Minister Nigel Dharamlall had set Monday, June 12, 2023, as the date for the holding of the much-anticipated and long overdue Local Government Elections (LGE) in Guyana.

Section 48 (1) of the Local Authorities (Elections) Act, Chapter 28:03, provides that all political parties, voluntary groups, and individuals who are desirous of contesting LGE are required to submit a symbol for approval by GECOM no later than the 21st day before Nomination Day.

ANUG Chairman Dr Mark France

Parties on the Joinder List: A New and United Movement (ANUG), The New Movement (TNM) and the Liberty and Justice Party (LJP) had agreed that the one seat gained would be shared by the three parties directly proportional to the votes gained. This means the TNM will have at least three months in Parliament.

While Lennox Shuman also served as the House’s Deputy Speaker, it has to be voted on to determine if Kissoon will also take up this role. However, she expressed her willingness to serve in that capacity.

“I’m not eyeing it per se. It has to be voted on. We have no idea how that would go but I do believe that any capacity that I am able to represent my constituency or my following, I will be willing to take that.”

Along with supporting policies that will enhance the lives of vulnerable groups, Kissoon is also seeking progress in achieving constitutional reform.

“I will be working on constitutional reform to have us as an independent opposition. I feel that’s important. Once we are able to establish that for ourselves, we can move forward when it comes to motions and policies…I am hoping to institute some change or constitutional reform that gives us that voice, and representation in GECOM and allow us to function as independent opposition.”

The three joinder parties collectively won a single seat in the 65-seat National Assembly following the March 2020 General and Regional Elections. The number of votes indicated that of the trio, LJP secured the most votes with 2657, while ANUG and TNM secured 2313 and 244 respectively.

The duration of the terms, according to the joinder agreement, had stipulated that LJP in the form of Shuman would occupy the seat for two years, six months, and 20 days, while ANUG would serve for two years five months, and TNM for 80 days. The three parties had previously committed to acting as a broker between the Government and the main Opposition.