The A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government has declared that March 18 will not be a national holiday.
“There is no indication that this will be declared a national holiday. Traditionally, Local Government Elections are not treated the same as national elections, so we do not see the need for a national holiday… in our assessment there is no need for a national holiday,” Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman told a post-Cabinet news conference on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, the Education Ministry said that schools across the country will be closed on March 17, for the Easter holidays and reopen on April 4. The early closure is due to the hosting of Local Government Elections (LGE). This was decided upon since several schools are to be used as polling stations.
But, the Opposition, People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) in a statement called for March 18 to be declared a public holiday. The PPP/C said that recent elections days have been invariably declared a national holiday in order to facilitate electors across the political spectrum to vote.
“It is to be noted that thousands of electors reside out of their constituencies and therefore a holiday would facilitate easy availability of time and space to exercise their franchise,” the PPP/C argued.
The Opposition said the government’s decision “can prove inimical to the interests of the electorate,” and called on the diplomatic community to take note.
Similar calls were also issued by Team Benschop, Team Legacy and Youths for Local Government, highlighting that this could impact voter turnout.
On Tuesday, at least 7000 Police, soldiers and prison service officers cast their ballots at various polling stations across the country, inclusive of 4693 members of the Guyana Police Force, 357 from the Guyana Prison Service and 1928 from the Guyana Defence Force. There are 523,831 eligible voters, most of whom will cast their ballots on March 18, 2016 in 71 Local Authority Areas, which include 62 Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) and nine municipalities.
Voting is scheduled to begin at 06:00h and conclude at 18:00h.