Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Kenny and Dalson, "Provide a timetable for restoring elected local government" says Therold Prudent

The decision by the St Lucia
Labour Party (SLP) to abolish local government
elections throughout the island in 1979 and to
replace elected representatives with handpicked
party loyalists may have contributed to much of the
social degradation and the polarization of local communities that exists in Saint Lucia today,
according to the Lucian People's Movement (LPM). The LPM leader Therold Prudent said, "The current
system of local government shows a blatant
disregard for the democratic process. It has created
a dysfunctional and unproductive bureaucracy
consisting largely of political zealots who lack the
will to advance a progressive agenda to help transform their communities. Moreover, since the
only requirement for becoming a councillor is an
affirmation of loyalty to the ruling party, it is not at
all difficult to understand why those appointed may
not feel that they are answerable to the people
whom they purport to serve." Prudent added, "The SLP should be chastised for its
reckless actions in 1979. These have contributed to
the destruction of the authority, structure,
independence, and progressive dynamism with
which local governments had previously operated.
Much of the blame should also be shouldered by the United Workers Party, which upon resuming
office in 1982, and for the next 20 years, failed to
correct the dangerous precedent set by the SLP." Saint Lucia's system of local government, as
currently instituted, said the LPM, does not lend
itself to attracting quality persons with a deep
commitment to community development. Prudent stated, "Since the narrow focus of the
ruling party is to extend its political dominance and
control, even in communities where parliamentary
representatives from their side were not elected,
those who may possess the qualities required to
help develop their respective communities are systematically overlooked or may decide against
offering themselves to serve because of the
selection process." The LPM said that all communities on the island
could be revitalized if the SLP were serious about
fulfilling its electoral promise of holding local
government elections. This would be a progressive
move that would return the island to its former
status as a fully-fledged democracy that reflects the will of all the people at all levels of governance. All
persons who desire to serve as councillors would
then be able to present the reasons to the people
that they should be elected, and once elected, they
would have the legitimacy that comes with the
approval and support of the voters. These representatives would have the opportunity to
openly debate and present their plans for
community development. Prudent said, "Given the serious social erosion of
the people's community spirit, the LPM is firmly of
the view that it is incumbent upon Prime Minister Dr
Kenny Anthony and the minister responsible for
local government, the Hon. Harold Dalson, to
provide the nation with a timetable for restoring elected local governments throughout the island." The LPM said it believes that the two years since the
narrow return of the SLP to office is more than
sufficient time for the government to have drafted a
credible proposal for holding elections. It should
also provide a blueprint for how much power will
be transferred from the central government in Castries to the local town and village councils,
including the structure and operational frame work
of these public bodies. Democracy, insisted Prudent, is about getting the
people involved in the governance of the country
so that a national consensus for its progressive
development can be achieved.

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