As pressure mounts on the Government to allow Guyana’s democracy to flourish, scores of supporters of the Opposition on Tuesday staged a peaceful picketing exercise outside the Ministry of the Presidency over the appointment of Government Councillors to head at least six Local Authority Areas where there was a tie after local polls.PPP/C supporters protest outside the Ministry of the PresidencyThe A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC)and the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) received six seats each on the Mabaruma Town Council, Region One (Barima-Waini), while a similar situation obtained in five Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs).Senior Party members leading the picketing exerciseHowever, Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan applied Section 13 (4) of the Municipal and District Councils Act, Chapter 28:01 and selected a Mayor for Mabaruma and Chairpersons of the five NDCs – a decision the PPP/C successfully challenged in the High Court last week.Justice Diana Insanally subsequently quashed the appointment of a Mayor for Mabaruma as well as the appointments of chairmen of the five NDCs.The Government has since indicated that it would challenge Justice Insanally’s decision and was confident of coming out successful, as it maintained Bulkan acted legally.But, in denouncing Bulkan’s “undemocratic” actions, PPP/C supporters from across the country, including Woodlands-Farm, Mahaicony, Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice); Woodlands-Bel Air, Region Five and Industry- Plaisance, Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica).The placard-bearing protesters braved the rains as they reiterated their position that “democracy was greater than the Government” and “democracy will prevail”.Speaking to Guyana Times, PPP Executive Secretary and Member of Parliament (MP) Zulfikar Mustapha explained that the protesters were out to register their rejection of Bulkan’s action.“This gathering is here to protest against the arbitrary decision made to appoint Chairpersons and Mayors in tied municipalities,” Mustapha stated.He said while the PPP/C had suggested a workable solution of rotation of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor position in Mabaruma and a similar system for tied NDCs, Bulkan went ahead and appointed APNU/AFC councillors to the positions, totally ignoring the PPP/C’s suggestion.Nigel Dharmalall, another PPP/C MP who was on the picket line said, Bulkan’s decision was “creating a cloud of controversy in the Local Government Elections (LGE)”.The parliamentarian stressed on the level of disrespect shown by the Government to the very principles of harmony and unity that it preached. He is calling on the President to listen to their concerns and let good sense prevail.He pointed out that the LGE were the basis for governance at the community level and his Party and supporters feel very aggrieved by the decisions made by Minister Bulkan.On Thursday last, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo told a news conference that Bulkan disregarded the laws for the sake of convenience.“This here is an illegal action on the part of the Government,” Jagdeo declared.He told reporters that his Party sought to reach a compromise with the APNU/AFC and offered for there to be a rotation of the Mayorship and Deputy Mayorship in Mabaruma and similar arrangements for the five affected NDCs.Jagdeo said he personally spoke with the Government’s Chief Whip Amna Ally on the matter at the weekend where she said after consultations with President David Granger, a decision had been taken to accept the suggestion of the PPP/C.He said there were even discussions on the process and procedure and talks about a formal agreement on the rotation.However, Jagdeo said the Government has on its position and moved to flout the laws and unilaterally appoint APNU/AFC Councillors to the top posts, even in areas where the PPP won a plurality of votes.This action, Jagdeo said, is undemocratic and is thwarting the will of the majority of the people in those NDCs.
Chief of Party of the World Council of Credit Union (WOCCU), Patrick Muriuki, has reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to support Liberians through a model credit union program in the country.Mr. Muriuki, who is also the project director of Microlead, a Credit Union Revitalization Program in Liberia, said though WOCCU is there to help the Liberia Credit Union National Association (LCUNA), stakeholders, including development partners, it also needs to maintain the revitalization process and represent the credit union movement in international forums.“To stakeholders, regional credit unions, too, need your support now more than ever to continue to offer financial services to farmer cooperatives, savings clubs and village savings and loan associations in communities that have no access to formal banking services,” he said at the close of an annual assembly held in Ganta, Nimba County, on May 25.He told the assembly that all credit unions in the country must support the Board and management of LCUNA through due payments and participate in training activities offered by LCUNA so that their apex body can continue to advocate for them.“As you are aware, WOCCU began operations in Liberia in May 2013 and was mandated to renovate and equip the LCUNA building, construct and equip 4 regional credit unions, connect 40,000 new members to financial services and mobilize US$3.5 million in savings and loans,” Mr. Muriuki recalled.The WOCCU boss also said LCUNA, Regional Credit Unions (RCU) and other associations have received training on credit administration best practices, governance, and strategic planning in Liberia, Ghana, Rwanda and Sweden.Besides these constructive networks for LCUNA and RCU, the Microlead Program is constantly working on product development and diversification for loans (5 loan products) and deposits (6 deposit products). Insurance and salary payment services have commenced being offered at Region one (Bomi) and Region two (Grand Bassa) RCUs, and will be extended across the remaining RCUs as demand increases, he indicated. The RCUs are also mobile money agents and have been providing mobile money services to their communities since May 2014 (with an average of 2,577 transactions to date per RCU).The Microlead Program, according to him, has come to an end. “We are spending the next couple of weeks to link the regional credit unions and their members to other development partners in the country that have newer innovative programs in their regions,” he said. “I would like to encourage all credit union leaders that have more than 300 members to apply for a license from CBL. “When your credit union is licensed by the Central Bank, many institutions and development partners will begin to have confidence in your credit union,” he said.Mr. Muriuki thanked the Liberian government for creating an enabling environment for the operation of community-owned financial institutions that contribute to the development of the country’s economy.Meanwhile, WOCCU, with MasterCard Foundation funding through UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), has partnered with the LCUNA to rebuild the credit union sector of Liberia. WOCCU also promotes sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)