– Advertisement – Rep-elect Richard Koon of UP The National Executive Committee of the ruling Unity Party (UP) has set-up a committee to write the “Vetting Regulations and Procedures” for Representatives-elect of the party who wish to be nominated for the House Speaker election.UP has appointed a five-man Committee with the task of producing appropriate “Vetting Rules, Regulations and Procedures” within four working days to enable the party to evaluate and streamline candidates for the Speaker’s race.Representative-elect Richard W. Koon of District #11 Montserrado County is one of the committee members. He told the Daily Observer in an exclusive interview that the committee will on Thursday, November 23, submit the Vetting Regulations and Procedures to UP executive members.Other members of the committee are Representatives-elect J. Nagbe Sloh (Sinoe District #2), Thomas A. Goshua II, Grand Bassa County, and Hanson Kiazolu (Montserrado District #17).“Besides being a member of the UP committee to write the vetting procedures, I have been contacted by Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue, Representative-elect Cllr. Fonati Koffa and other candidates who have expressed the desire to become Speaker for the 54th Legislature,” Koon said.Among the 73 reelected incumbents and newly elected lawmakers, UP is second to the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) with 20 Representatives, while the CDC has 21. UP’s collaborating party, the People’s Unification Party, has six Representatives – totaling 26 for the party.The Daily Observer later gathered that besides the six names earlier announced for the post, two names have been added. They are Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue (Independent); Ways, Means and Finance Chairman, Prince Moye (UP); and Cllr. Fonati Koffa (newly elected LP Representative).Others are former speaker Edwin M. Snowe (UP); former chairman of the House National Defense Committee, Dr. Bhofal Chambers (CDC); and the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Thomas Fallah (CDC).The additional names include Lawrence Morris (Independent) and Johnson Gwaikolo of the Victory for Change Party.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Mustapha Raji says he will bring changes to improve football if electedThe Liberia Football Association (LFA) went to elections in April, but the outcome was interrupted when one of the candidates filed an injunction to stop further proceedings, because his concerns filed at the LFA Protest and Appeals committees were ignored. The case will now be decided by the court. Mr. Mustapha Raji secured 16 votes shy of the 18 needed to have won hands down. In this interview, Raji, who was the favorite, explained his love for the game and while he believes that he deserves the support of stakeholders to reach his dream as president of the LFA. Excerpts:Daily Observer: Mr. Raji we know you had hoped that the elections on April 14 could have settled the leadership of the LFA. Now there is still a good chance for you to earn the title when the run-off is finally decided by the court. But my question is: why do you think that you deserve to be elected president of the LFA?Mustapha Raji: Thanks for the question. I have followed or I have been involved in Liberian football since I was twenty-five years old. I have owned clubs as far as I can remember and have sponsored young players. As president of two clubs in the league (LISCR FC and Gardnersville FC), I understand what it takes to build a team and players. I think with that experience, I can ascend to the leadership of the LFA and make a greater impact on our country.DO: Running a football club or two football clubs as your experience indicates is quite different from running a national federation, have you thought about the challenges that are associated with a national association? For example, you will need qualified individuals to staff the Secretariat of the LFA and you will not need to micromanage the LFA, that is to say, you will not have to control every part or dictate what everyone at the LFA should do.MR: I am glad you brought this question out. Remember that at a club president I have a system set up that those who I have employed work according to their job specification. There are none of my workers at both LISCR FC and Gardnersville FC that will give you any hint that I exhibit any undue control over them. My coaches will tell you how I give them the chance to do their work. I am running for the LFA leadership because I believe any technician employed there deserves the administration’s support.DO: Mr. Raji if you become successful and elected president of the LFA, what will be your immediate focus?MR: I am glad that you are identifying issues that are yet to become realities. With the present status of Liberian football, including the league and Liberia’s poor position on the continental and international scenes, I will have to meet with stakeholders, including the Executive Committee of the LFA to do some real thinking. We want Liberian youths to participate in the tournaments organized by CAF. Yes, we want our girls to be at the Female Championships on both CAF and FIFA levels and therefore we need to support it. Yes, we will have to expose our coaches to increase their technical knowledge. Yes, we’ll have to support our referees in their assignments at both and away. Yes, we’ll have to seek additional financial support from the business community. Yes, we’ll have to work out other arrangements…so you can see that we will have a whole lot on our hands to do. They will include community football, U17 football across the country, beach football and many other initiatives that we will work on both for the short and long-term. I am asking the electorates to give me the opportunity to lead and support what I have followed and spent my resources for nineteen years. This is the climax of my involvement in soccer administration and I need their support to make my dream real.DO: If you are elected president of the LFA when the court finally decide for the elections to continue will that signify that you are better than your opponents? Could you bring any of the candidates closer for Liberia’s sake?MR: These are wonderful questions and my take is I have asked the stakeholders to vote me to power. We need to work together to achieve what we want for Liberia, and I hope that has answered your question. I have known Mr. Musa Shannon and Mr. George Solo for many years. These are wonderful people and I am glad for their passion to change the future of Liberian soccer for the better. If I am successful as president of the LFA, I will bring them to my kitchen cabinet. They are great people and I appreciate them.DO: Now our final question: what promise or promises will you make to the Liberian people that could be your gift to them in your first term in office if you are elected president of the LFA?MR: If I don’t be careful with the questions you ask, I will overdo myself. And in fact, I appreciate your questions and that’s why I am always comfortable with the media since we are in it together. It is obvious that every FA’s goal is to be at the next Nations’ Cup and the next World Cup. We have a president who has an unbeatable and enviable career in football. I think he deserves either of the tournaments you mentioned. If I am elected president of the LFA, it will be our goal, all of us. In fact, thank you for bringing it up, I will engage President George Weah to take the game to the people. Together, including the media, the players, the coaches, every one of us will discuss and work toward the targets you mentioned. All I am asking for is for the stakeholders to give me the mandate as the electorates gave President Weah the mandate.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The All Liberian Conference of Diaspora Leaders, representing the major Liberian regional umbrella organizations around the world has observed with grave concern the growing political tension in Liberia characterized by incendiary rhetoric and occasional threats of violence.The Diaspora leadership representing the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA); the European Federation of Liberian Associations (EFLA); the Union of Liberian Associations in Ghana (ULAG); The Federation of Liberians in Australia (FOLICA); Conference of Liberian Organizations in the Southwestern United States (COLOSUS); and the Coalition of Concerned Liberians (CCL) issued the call in a joint statement at the close of a recent summit in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, USA.The leaders made specific reference to the recent threat by a band of former warlords against a legislator, Montserrado County District #10 representative, Yekeh Kolubah, which was later clarified and rescinded. They also commended the organizers of the June 7 rally for their pledge to conduct themselves peacefully with respect to the rule of law.“While the Diaspora Leadership recognizes that free expression of views and assembly are cardinal to the democratic process, it is also aware that the use of confrontational languages in the public space have the potential of creating misunderstanding and a hostile environment,” The Diaspora leadership noted.They further issued a call to all Liberians, including the government, the opposition and the media, as well as those on social media to be mindful of the fact that the nation is still emerging from years of instability. “Let us be mindful of our recent past and help strengthen our fragile democracy by maintaining an enduring environment of peaceful co-existence. In so doing,” the Diaspora leaders noted, “we must tone down the rhetoric as it is time that Liberians begin the process of talking with each other, rather than talking at each other to discuss national issues. We must reckon with the fact that there will always be divergent of views. Hence, tolerance and sobriety are key requirements in expanding the democratic environment.”The Diaspora Leadership Group then called upon Liberians to never again see violence as a pathway to resolving political problems. Rather, politicians, advocates, and citizens should take the constructive path organizing peacefully using the rule of Law to advance their political agenda.June 7 ProtestMeanwhile, the Diaspora Leadership Group is particularly pleased that organizers of the June 7 protest have emphasized their commitment to the rule of Law and pledged that the event will be peaceful. Similarly, the Diaspora leadership Group also welcome the expression by the government that it will uphold its obligations under the law by ensuring that Liberians exercise their right to freely assemble and petition their representatives in a peaceful manner.The Diaspora Leadership Group applauds the decision of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) NOT to stage a counter-demonstration against the June 7 protestors on the same day. This decision is not only wise, but largely removes any miscalculation that could lead to potential violence amongst protestors.Disassociation From Sanctions CallIn a related development, the Diaspora Leadership Group strongly distances its various organizations from a call made by few Liberians who styled themselves as “US Citizens and US Taxpayers” for the United States government to stop economic support to Liberia. The independent group recently made the call when they visited a Legislative staffer in the offices of the U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives. The Diaspora leadership believes that at a time when Liberians at home are facing tremendous economic challenges, such a call by this group for an economic embargo on the Liberian people is unconscionable and may increase the suffering on ordinary Liberians. Meanwhile, the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA) has already taken the necessary actions in the corridors of the U.S. Government to counter what they described as an unwarranted request.Leaders of Liberian Diaspora organizations present at the summit included: Vamba Fofana, President, Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA); Kingston Washington Wleh Sr., President, The European Federation of Liberian Associations (EFLA); Willie Kim Kamara, President, Conference of Liberian Organizations in the Southwestern United States (COLOSUS); John F. Lloyd, National Chairman, Coalition of Concern Liberians (CCL); Mohamed Salia Dukuly, President, The Federation of Liberian Communities in Australia (FOLICA), Inc.; and Julia Mardea Richards, President, United Liberian Association in Ghana (ULAG).Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) – Advertisement –
The decision was reached following the intervention of Internal Affairs Minister Varney A. Sirleaf in Ganta, Nimba County, when he brokered a peace deal between the two parties.Redundant workers of ArcelorMittal Liberia have agreed to cut off their protest actions against the company and resume work as the management has promised to reinstate them to the workforce as well as pay employee benefits, a release from the Ministry of Internal Affairs has said.According to the release, the decision was reached following the intervention of Internal Affairs Minister Varney A. Sirleaf on Thursday, November 14, 2019, in Ganta, Nimba County, when he brokered a peace deal between the two parties.An Internal Affairs Ministry’s press release said that the meeting, called by Minister Sirleaf, brought together the leadership of the protesters, representatives of ArcelorMittal management, and Nimba County Superintendent David Dorr Cooper, with each of them making significant inputs.Early Thursday, protesters in Grand Bassa and Nimba counties set up roadblocks on the train track which the company uses to transport iron ore from Nimba County to the port of Buchanan, in demand of their benefits or reinstatement to the workforce.Kingston Nyandibo, head of the redundant ArcelorMittal employees, said in a meeting that the workers and some of their family members embarked on the protest “because all efforts aimed at addressing their plights with the management have failed.”Nyandibo informed Minister Sirleaf that those affected include 769 workers, categorized as 363 employees, 366 contractors, and 40 others who were considered “illegally dismissed.”According to the protesters’ leadership, their redundancy was effected in 2015 and 2016 due to a drop in prices of iron ore on the international market, with an understanding that the company would recall them if prices rose again.“Instead, when prices improved beginning 2017, the company chose to hire a new batch of workers, which was in total disregard to the redundancy clause,” said Joseph G. Kaye, a spokesperson of the protesters.Kaye said they have been pursuing the matter with the company since May 2018.But Marcus S. Wleh, Head of Government Relations assigned with Arcelormital, has meanwhile appealed to the protesters to grant a two-week period for the company to sort out the relevant documentations that would lead to finding a permanent and amicable solution to the problem.Also, Minister Sirleaf assured that he will work with other government entities, including the Ministry of Labor and National Bureau of Concessions, to resolve the impasse.Based on Minister Sirleaf’s intervention, Nyandibo promised to immediately communicate with his colleagues as well as travel along the train track, pleading with his colleagues to remain calm and abort all protests.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
…grounds include equality, freedom of expression infringementsMBC Channel 42/93 is the second broadcaster in Guyana to seek relief in the High Court on claims of constitutional rights’ infringements, which it says is enshrined in the 2017 Broadcasting Amendment.The broadcaster is claiming infringements of equality and freedom of expression among other claims of loss of constitutional rights. Stephen Fraser of the Chambers of Fraser, Housty and Yearwood, representing the broadcaster on Monday (November 13, 2017), filed a fixed date application naming Attorney General Basil Williams, and the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) as respondents.The hearing in the High Court is set for December 15.Meanwhile, a fixed date application to challenge the Broadcasting Amendment (2017) by Freedom House Radio Inc is set for a High Court hearing today. The broadcasters are separately challenging the 2017 amendment on various constitutional grounds.Freedom Radio Inc had filed a constitutional challenge in the High Court, over the Administration’s imposition of an ‘onerous’ increase in the annual broadcasting fee and the expropriation of its airwaves during ‘prime time,’ for Government broadcasts.The separate challenges by the two broadcasters follow significant outcry by local and international press bodies, among others, on fears of erosion of press freedom and other impacts, particularly in terms of legislated demands under public service broadcasting (PSB).One such international body, Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), more commonly referred to as Reporters Without Borders, had stated before the Bill was assented to law that “what is most worrying about the Bill is its process of adoption, which involved no consultations with any broadcasters even though repeated attempts were made to meet with Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo both leading up to, and during, parliamentary debate…”Others who voiced their concerns include the International Press Institute, Association of Caribbean Media Workers, Guyana parliamentary Opposition, the Guyana Private Sector Commission, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce, and the FITUG, largest amalgamation of trade unions in Guyana.In its high court action, MBC 93 is contending that unfair competition and expropriation of property rights, among other loss of rights, have been legislated through the Amendment contrary to its constitutional rights.In its application, MBC 93 noting the contravening of its equality rights, pointed out that “this unfair competition scenario has been exacerbated where the public broadcaster, National Communications Network (NCN) receives a significant subvention from the public purse, and continues to engage in competition with private broadcasters for the commercial market.”It noted the status of “the State-owned NCN which is not subjected to the same level of interference by the new amendments”, adding, “as such, Government’s competition policies supplemented and grounded now in the new laws constitutes an unfair and unreasonable interference with the Applicant’s fundamental right to freedom of expressions as well as its property rights and interests”.According to the High Court action, the legislating of public service broadcasting puts private broadcasters in double jeopardy to face unfair competition and to provide services without compensation, with potential to impact on commitments to commercial clients.The fixed date application by MBC 93 also noted the potential for the company’s operations to be attempted to be closed by the State in its possible enforcement of the Amendment.“The High Court action also challenges the continuing demand by GNBA for past exorbitant fees (declared unlawful) and the new increased fees with its likely effect of destroying the Applicant and shutting down its operation entirely” said MBC 93.In the High Court challenge, the broadcaster contends that “since 1995 it had sole and exclusive rights to broadcast on the specified channel and spectrum, and as a result of the grant made under the licence, the Applicant obtained a vested right to property and an interest in the spectrum and channel.”According to MBC 93, this interest and right then automatically fell to be protected by section 142 of the Constitution of Guyana which prescribed that interests and rights in property of whatever nature could not be taken away without adequate compensation.It noted also that the 2017 Amendment effectively took away its rights in spectrum and channel by “splitting of the National Spectrum into ‘Zones’, and unreasonable and unjustified licence fees also effectively contravened the Applicant’s property and interest rights in the spectrum and channel as guaranteed by section 142 of the Guyana Constitution.”The Broadcasting Amendment 2017 was passed in the House of Parliament at its August sitting this year despite a number of broadcasters asking for a stay and requesting an audience with the Prime Minister to discuss their concerns over the then proposed amendment.While the broadcasters were still awaiting word on this letter for an audience, the amendment received presidential assent on September 7, 2017.According to MBC 93 in a released statement, to date, there has been no response from the Prime Minister to the request for a meeting to discuss broadcasters’ concerns, while noting that existing broadcasters were forced once more to re-apply for their licences or face penalties including criminalisation if they continued to broadcast without re-applying.
– Persaud said he did “nothing wrong”– Ramjattan tells reporters to “haul yuh ass”The coalition Government has forced outgoing Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud to revoke the approval of a firearm dealer licence, which he granted himself last month, a move which the Top Cop says is now unprecedented.A section of the State media on Wednesday reported in a staged fashion exclusively on the story which was the same day the Police Force held a farewell parade for Persaud, who goes off on pre-retirement leave next Monday ahead of his April retirement.When asked about the matter following the farewell, the outgoing Top Cop told reporters that there was nothing wrong with him applying to himself and thenOutgoing Top Cop Seelall Persaudgranting approval for a licence to set up the dealership.In fact, he noted that this was done before.“In the 1980s, there was a Commissioner who granted himself dealership licence … There is precedence for it … something is wrong with this Commissioner that they tell the public that it was wrong,” the outgoing Top Cop asserted.Asked whether it was ethical for him to make this move just a few weeks before his retirement, the outgoing Commissioner pointed out that the business would have only become operationalised in May, after his retirement.“There was precedence, it’s a business and I can’t do business on the job, so it would have only been operational after I retire,” Persaud said.He went on to point out that almost all past Commissioners of Police applied for and grant gun licences to themselves.“If you look historically over the past 25 years, all the past Commissioners, maybe with the exception of one, granted themselves firearm licences. So it’s not anything new but you know we live in a society today where one set of circumstances is good for one person, but not good for the other,” he posited.Nonetheless, Persaud said he would not be challenging the decision to revoke his licence, as he has since become discouraged with the idea of opening his own firearms dealership.“It doesn’t matter; it was one line of business I was contemplating and that won’tPublic Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattanhappen any longer. But I have a lot of experience; I have a lot of credibility and I’m very confident in my next phase in life,” the outgoing Top Cop stated.It was reported in the State’s newspaper that Persaud on January 29, 2018 responded to an application previously made in his name, approving his business – Professional Outdoors Supplies – as a registered firearms dealer.Reports revealed that the outgoing Top Cop three days earlier granted approval for two gun licences for a 9mm Pistol and a 12, 16 or 20-Gauge Pump Action Shotgun.However, it was reported that the matter reached and engaged Cabinet’s attention and Persaud was since instructed by Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan to revoke the dealership licence.The authority of granting firearm licences and licences for gun dealers falls under the remit of the Commissioner of Police, who, upon receiving an application, forwards it to the relevant Policing Division for an investigation into the background and character of the applicant. Based on the findings of the probe, the Commissioner makes a recommendation to the Minister, who then forwards it to the Firearms Licensing Approval Board for review. The Board will then make its own recommendations to the Minister, and based on that or his own deliberate judgement, the Minister grants the licence.When approached following the farewell parade on Wednesday afternoon for a comment on the matter, Ramjattan was hostile towards the media, telling reporters to have ‘time and place’.He then pointed out that he spoke with online news site Demerara Waves earlier and was promptly reminded that he “cursed” in that conversation, to which he responded, “Yes, there are times when I could use expletives.”Further pressed on the matter, Ramjattan, who is also performing duties as acting Prime Minister, declared: “I am not dodging no issue.” He then proceeded to walk away, heading to his vehicle and uttered over his shoulder, “haul yuh ass”.Nevertheless, this most recent scandal involving the outgoing Police Commissioner comes on the heels of the damning report from the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the Police Force’s handling of the probe into the alleged assassination plot against President David Granger.The CoI, headed by Retired Police Commissioner Paul Slowe, recommended that disciplinary actions be taken against Persaud and that he be made to resign or be removed for misbehaviour and investigated for perjury.The Commissioner subsequently proceeded on four months of vacation leave and a few days prior to his November return, he was sent on two months “special leave”. That move was translated by social commentators as Persaud getting the boot. However, he resumed duties in mid-January.
Minister within the Public Health Ministry, Dr Karen Cummings described nurses as the “heart” of the public healthcare system and said they should be shown more appreciation for their priceless contribution.“The hardworking men and women who are responsible for the treatment, safety, and recovery of acutely or chronically ill or injured persons must be profoundly recognised for their unrivalled commitment and dedication. We must also celebrate the work that nurses do in maintenance of the healthy and the treatment of life-threatening emergencies in a wide ranged healthcare setting,” the Minister is quoted by the Department of Public Information (DPI) as saying. This wasMinister within the Public Health Ministry, Dr Karen Cummingshighlighted on Saturday during an International Nurses Day ceremony at the Woodlands Hospital. Minister Cummings noted that though many may overlook the hard work and devotion demonstrated by nurses, the Ministry commended them for their priceless contribution.“While nursing is a tough, challenging profession, it is also a noble one and while it could be physically, mentally and emotionally demanding at times, it can also be rewarding. We, at the Ministry, salute you all for hard work and hope that you continue to help those in need to assist in achieving the Health Vision 2020,” the Minister noted.She reiterated that the Ministry also recognised the critical importance of investing in human capital which is necessary to enable nurses to strive prosperously in a dynamic healthcare environment. She further thanked the nurses for performing their tasks with the utmost respect, professionalism, dedication, and commitment.Obstetrics/Gynaecology Managing Director, Dr Neville Gobin also lauded the nursing staff for their hard work over the years.
…as Mid-Year Report warns of economic consequences for GuyanaThe first half of 2018 has seen Guyana’s Balance of Payment deficit take a sharp leap forward, when compared to the same period for 2017 and even the Finance Ministry’s Mid-Year Report is warning of the consequences.The report, which was laid in the National Assembly only days ago, details that Guyana for the first half of the year recorded a deficit of US$139.8 million. This is in contrast to the corresponding period for last year, when the deficit was just US$46 million.“Guyana’s Balance of Payments deficit increased further as a result of a significantly higher deficit on the current account, which more than offset a surplus on the capital account.The weakening of the current account, from a deficit of US$79.2 million to a deficit of US$194.1 million, was due to higher deficits on the merchandise trade and services accounts, notwithstanding increased net unrequited transfers,” the report states.“The negative balance on the merchandise trade account widened to US$218.0 million during the first half of 2018, from US$112.2 million, in the first half of 2017, attributed to stronger growth in total import payments, which rose by US$137.8 million over the review period.Growth in imports was driven by an overall expansion in all major categories, intermediate goods by US$92.6 million, capital goods by US$41.1million and consumption goods by US$3.6 million.”According to the report, the total value of imported capital goods was driven by increases in all sub categories except agricultural machinery. IN fact, the report notes that this decreased by US$5.6 million.“Within the overall category, substantial growth was recorded for mining machinery, “other capital goods” and industrial machinery, which expanded by US$13.9 million, US$10.6 million and US$9.7 million, respectively.”“The expansion of imports of consumption goods was mainly due to significant growth in food for final consumption and other durables, which increased by US$9.2 million and US$8.2 million, respectively over the reporting period. Further growth in this category was limited by a reduction of US$22.8 million in the value of ‘other non-durable’ goods imported.”The report warns that global risks, such as rising commodity prices, climate change and turbulent international trade relationships, do pose a threat to the stability and progress of Guyana’s economy. And it warned that increased importation will put a strain on the country’s foreign reserves.“Specifically, the issue of climate change, which brings with it unpredictable weather patterns, has the ability to adversely affect the agriculture and mining and quarrying sectors, and, consequently, restrict production.On the other hand, while commodity prices are expected to strengthen, in 2018, this will have mixed effects.”“On the positive side, rising prices offer favourable prospects for the exporting Sectors – gold, rice, timber and aluminium. However, the increased importation of Intermediate goods, especially fuel and lubricants, and consumption goods, could likely offset the gains from export earnings. This could put a strain on Guyana’s international reserves, reinforcing the urgency with which economic diversification and resilience – Strengthening must take place,” the report states.Balance of Payments is statistical data on a country’s fiscal transactions, including imports and exports. To therefore record a deficit, Guyana would have had to spend more on imports, among other things, that it derived from exports.According to the 2017 Macro-economic Report, Guyana’s overall Balance of Payments in the last fiscal year showed a deficit of US$69.5 million.This is a hike when compared to US$53.3 million the previous year.
With just over two weeks remaining before the 2018 Local Government Elections (LGE), the Alliance For Change (AFC) party is confident about the upcoming polls despite getting in the race late in the game.General Secretary Marlon Williams (third from left); along with Region Four District Chairman, Michael Leonard (right); Constituency 3 (East-Central) Bartica, Juretha Fernandes (left); and Central Mackenzie, Linden, representative, Devin SearsThe AFC, a minority party in the coalition Government, believes it will be successful at the November 12 Local Government polls, according to the party’s General Secretary Marlon Williams during a press conference at the AFC’s Kitty headquarters on Wednesday.“We, the Alliance For Change, feel confident that we will be successful in these Local Government [Elections] because what we have done is – to grab our slogan – we have selected ‘fit and proper’ people within those NDCs (Neighbourhood Democratic Councils) and constituencies,” Williams said.He went on to note that the core of the AFC remains its spirit to effect change and in achieving this going forward, it has turned to a young, fresh and vibrant slate of people.The AFC will be contesting 38 of the 80 Local Authority Areas (LAA).In fact, the party’s Region Four District Chairman, Michael Leonard, told the media conference that despite starting late in the LGE race, the AFC has managed to secure more 161 constituency candidates and is fielding more than 600 representatives in total.On the matter of constituency candidates, the AFC’s candidate for Constituency 3 (Central Mackenzie) in Linden, Devin Sears, echoed similar sentiments, saying that the AFC is a beckon of hope for the people of Linden.He further added that despite being a young party, the AFC is a force to be reckoned with.“Linden sits in the heart of Guyana, but everything seems to pass through Linden… The people are fed of the same cycle over and over. We’ve had one party that has never lost Linden and we’ve had one party that has governed the country but ignored Linden so I think it’s time Linden has a change now, we cannot wait. We need to start opening up our eyes to see our town/municipality is not owned by any party and the AFC is as strong as any other party contesting the Local Government Elections,” he posited.According to Sears, the high rate of unemployment is high among the list of issues that the party intends to tackle if it emerges successful at the November 12 polls.Meanwhile, his fellow party representative in Constituency 3 (East-Central) Bartica, Juretha Fernandes, outlined some of the key areas her party is focusing on going into this year’s Local Government polls, including transparency and accountability, youth empowerment and involvement and economic enhancement.“[Bartica] still can be considered a new municipality and there’s a lot of things that [are] going on there; that persons are questioning the accountability aspect of what has happened since the 2016 Local Government Elections to now. I can confidently say that as a member of the Alliance For Change, accountability is something we pride ourselves on. In everything that we do, we believe that the process must be transparent to every residents and no stones must be left unturned in doing so,” Fernandes, who is also the party’s Deputy Campaign Director, posited.After failed talks earlier this year with its coalition partner – A Partnership for National Unity – the AFC announced back in May that it was going to contest this year’s Local Government polls on its own.
A suspect is assisting St Lucia’s police with investigations into the fatal stabbing of Guyanese national, Michael Pooran at Bagatelle, Castries.Neville Atille, a friend of the deceased, told St Lucia Times that Pooran, 27, was a very good person who was outgoing and liked to dress.Dead: Michael PooranHe disclosed that about 05:00h on Sunday, neighbours informed him about the fatal stabbing.According to St Lucia Times, Atille said he and the deceased were acquainted with the suspect in the fatal stabbing.“The last time I built my step, he asked for a job. We said ‘We don’t have any job doing – it’s for free. If you want rum and food,’ he said ‘Yeah’ he will do anything. And now he is saying that Michael owes him money.”Atille said that according to reports he received, Pooran went to a party in the neighbourhood and the suspect started “troubling” the deceased and following him around.“That’s what I heard. People were saying ‘Leave the guy alone’,” Atille told St Lucia Times.He said based on his information, the two started fighting.“Eyewitness did not see Michael stab the assailant. Michael never walks with a weapon because he is a big tough guy,” Atille stated.He explained that a mutual friend advised Pooran to leave the scene but as he held the Guyanese, he realised that he was bleeding.Atille said the mutual friend heard footsteps and thinking that the assailant was after him as well, he left Pooran, who had by that time collapsed, and ran.He said Pooran went to St Lucia from Guyana in 2014.