Georgetown, Guyana – (October 20, 2018) President David Granger, on Friday, said that Local Government Elections (LGEs) are about empowering citizens to fix local problems, even as he encouraged residents to exercise their right to elect leaders who will serve, in his address at a community meeting held at the Indigenous Peoples’ Conference Hall, Central Rupununi, Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo (Region Nine).

“Local Government Elections is about you and about your rights, your entitlement to choose the people who you want to represent you; that is what it is all about,” the President said, even as he called on the residents to “trust [their] own judgement; trust the people you know”.

President Granger noted that a mere 10 months after the APNU-AFC coalition government went into office in May 2015, the LGEs were held after a 22-year hiatus as “Local Government Elections is not a favour, it is not an option, it is an entitlement to the people.”

The Head of State said that while APNU did not win at the last LGE, his administration is giving citizens the right to make choices. “Since then, we have been strengthening the local government system. In three years, we have created four towns,” he said, adding that he envisions that one-day Lethem will become a city.

The President also noted that several changes have occurred since the return of local democracy in 2016 stressing that Guyana can only be developed from the roots. “There are three levels of government, the municipality is one level, the Indigenous communities have their own village councils, the Regional Democratic Council is at the second level, and the central government is at the third level. All three levels have to work together,” he said, emphasizing the need for cooperation among all the parties.

“We came together to empower you… if the candidates don’t work, people will remember them,” he told the gathering, while deeming the LGE as an apprenticeship or school house where candidates will learn to serve their constituents.

“You have to serve if you want to lead,” President Granger said, noting that it is through local government that democracy is exercised as all stakeholders sit around a table and decide what’s best for the respective communities.

The President explained that Lethem’s development is a work in progress but pointed to improvements made to the town since government took office in May 2015. “It may seem small but if you know Lethem 20 or 30 years ago, you would see the changes… We need to be driven by an idea that this is not about simply winning and sharing out seats, it is about improving the municipality of Lethem,” the President said.

Similarly, Minister of Social Protection, Ms. Amna Ally noted the improvements the town has seen over the past three years and called on the residents to look to the future. “Don’t throw it away!” she declared as she noted that the coalition government has seen the development of Lethem from 2015 to date.

Meanwhile, some 50 children of Lethem and neighbouring communities received bicycles from the President through the Public Education Transport Service (PETS). During a brief interaction with the recipients, President Granger urged the school aged children to make good use of the bicycles.

He stressed that access to information is important and ways and means are being found to ensure that all the nation’s children can attend school daily. “This is about education, this is not about politics, or party…this is something we believe in; that children must not be prevented from going to school because their parents are poor,” he said.

“With these bicycles, you’d go to school. You’d go to school and learn and by learning you’d be able to get good employment and be able to become citizens of Guyana who are happy, prosperous and contented”.

Additionally, the President commissioned a new ‘David G.’ bus and handed it over to the Regional Democratic Council.

Thus far, 28 buses and 1,354 bicycles have been handed over across the country to assist children to attend school.

Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Mr. Sydney Allicock also attended the meeting.

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