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Former MP urges gov’t to strengthen democracy, restore local gov’t elections

By Samuel Sukhnandan, Staff Journalist

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Jeannine Compton-Antoine

Jeannine Compton-Antoine

In light of recent moves to appoint persons to serve on various local government bodies including the 13 constituency councils, former Member of Parliament (MP) for Micoud North Jeannine Compton-Antoine is calling on the new government to restore local government elections to bring some fairness to the system.

Compton-Antoine told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) in an interview on Wednesday that was one of the things she was campaigning for and would have implemented in Micoud North if she was successful at the June 6, 2016 election.

The former MP observed that at present the government still continues to select persons to sit on various councils and the opposition has no say as to who should or should not be selected to serve.

But what Compton-Antoine finds more upsetting, is that most of the time the people from the constituencies are not even familiar with the council members.

“Prior to the election, in every community in Micoud North, when we discussed the council, no one knew who was representing their community on the council and what their role on council was,” she told SNO.

Compton-Antoine who is passionate about this issue and had spoken extensively about the need to improve accountability and transparency on Saint Lucia said that the people should decide who gets to represent them.

‎She said, “The government needs to allow for the strengthening of local government, by allowing the people of the various communities to elect their representatives on council and to give each constituency council a budget to do meaningful work in the constituency. The council should meet regularly with constituents to discuss and determine the projects and priorities for each community. Thus helping to create a development plan for each constituency developed through the input of the people.”

The former independent MP also believes that the council should inform constituents regularly of budgetary allocations, projects approved, expenditure and contract processes and awards of contracts.

She is also of the view that the council should meet with the various communities at least every three months.

Further, Compton-Antoine suggested that all elected representatives should be the head of the local government and should not hold any ministerial portfolio.

“Each constituency would have a mayor i.e. the elected representative and elected councils. They would submit annual budgets to central government for approval based on each constituency’s development plan and would approve legislation etc. via the Parliament,” she explained.

The former Micoud North MP favours a Swiss model of governance, where each constituency has a ‘people’s parliament’ which meet often to discuss, appraise and get the input of the people as what to is happening in the constituency .

This ‘people’s parliament’, according to her, would be made up of: the representative, the council, the police and fire service, district education and health representatives, youth and sports councils, among others.

“This would bring true accountability and allow governance to be put back in the hands of the people. Right now, Saint Lucians have no say in our governance,” Compton-Antoine told SNO.

At present, most councilors are appointed not based on merit or capability but rather on their political affiliation. They are not subjected to public scrutiny as they do not have to face the public during the general election.

Council polls were suspended in 1979 by the Saint Lucia Labour Party-led government.

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7 comments

  1. Culturally a people steeped and mired in crass tribal politics cannot operate local government outside the boundaries of just miserable divisive politics. It will not happen. They are too unread and too unsophisticated to run such a body properly. They cannot see the forest for the trees.

    Likewise, for the last constitutional commissions which bears ample testimony of a politically biased and uninformed select group, that NEVER rose above the dictates of those who selected them, to discuss and propose ideas that showed FORESIGHT, courage, fair-mindedness, equity, discipline, and genuine democratic ideals.

    They were so ordinary.

    There was absolutely NO ONE, who exhibited any deep and wide philosophical exposure and understanding along the lines of (say) a HUNTER J. FRANCOIS. Therefore, in the end what did we get? Pure balderdash.

    The same old run-of-the-mill tripe as dictated and inspired by leadership that cannot even today frame a convincing and genuine future for social and economic development of the entire country. It has been said that where there is no vision, the people perish.

    (68)(0)
  2. dont be stupid she is right more powers need to be given on the local level thats the only way to achieve positive progressive changes the people is the government and to represent their comunity allows creative thinking .

    (12)(1)
  3. I second the motion.

    (3)(0)
  4. These so-called Constituency Councils are an abomination. There are just another avenue for ruling parties to share the spoils with supporters. These people are not accountable to anyone. No one knows what they're doing. Elections to these Councils can be done at the same time as elections to Parliament. But that has not happened because Parliamentary representatives are unwilling to share power. That's the problem.

    (5)(1)
  5. Now, who pays for all this? Castries the Capital City, with it's population always
    had, and should always have a Council. They started as C.T.B. (Castries Town Board)
    I can see Soufriere and V/Fort, each having a Town Council, and maybe Gross Islet,
    and that's it. Your Father was the Rep there for so long he did absolutely nada;
    The game you're playing now is a ground work for next election, say it isn't so.
    But nothing is wrong with that, but come clean. Shouldn't you meet face to face
    with your present M.P. and have a discussion to that effect first and see how it
    goes then come here and tell us about it; don't be shy, she wont coco-butt you.

    (3)(3)
  6. What hypocrisy from Jeannine!
    You completely ostracised the council which your father had recommended. You and your ABC group were in charge of everything!
    You talk of transparency? You and the labour Party have made transparency a bad word.

    Jeannine, take a rest!

    (9)(12)
  7. She is right and i hope they take heed. Thr LPM to their credit have made this their signature issue over the years, yet all prevuois administration's have ignored them.
    I personally aupport tha. LET THE PEOPLE HAVR A GREATER VOICE. IT WILL BENEFIT THE COUNTRY.

    (8)(4)

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