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With the absence of local government elections over the past several decades in St Lucia, most councilors are appointed not based on merit or capability but rather on their political affiliation.
Councilors are not subjected to public scrutiny as they do not have to face the public during the general election, and this could lead to several negative implications.
Leader of Lucian Peoples Movement (LPM), Therold Prudent, is therefore urging the new government and Minister for Local Government, Lenard ‘Spider’ Montoute to bring back local government elections.
“Before he rushes to have UWPs appointed all over the constituency, he need to do what is right, by bringing back local government elections, allowing St Lucians and communities to vote for local representatives; persons who are truly representatives of the community and not the kind what we have seen,” Prudent told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) in a recent interview.
The LPM leader said if the new government is serious about improving governance and meeting the needs of the people, they would go back to the days of Sir John Compton, when he allowed for communities to elect persons to serve as councilmen.
“If Lenard Montoute is serious, then I will support him, but if his aim is just to pluck his inner circles and those who have been in the shadows of his term in politics in the last 20 years, by just placing them in key positions, then I am saying to him, I am going to oppose that in Gros Islet,” he said.
Prudent who contested the Gros Islet seat but lost to Montoute in this year’s election, told SNO that there is going to be a voice raised against “those persons and we are going to drag them out of the shadows, and ensure that the St Lucian people know who they are.”
“I am saying clearly we need a change. And change cannot be based on doing the same things over and over again. Whether or not he wants to accept the things I am saying, the fact remains we need to have local government elections, allowing communities to be able to elect their own people.”
The politician believes that persons currently appointed to positions within various local community councils are basic “rubber stamps.”
“This must come to an end. Let us get persons involved in the community. Just don’t appoint persons who are sitting on a body, who has no enthusiasm for community work and allowing them to become the councilors. We must have a certain level of independence within local government,” he told SNO.
Prudent said although Compton maintained local government elections in the early 70’s, he never moved to restore it after he returned to power subsequent to it being suspended.
He also highlighted that the Stephenson King administration did not move to restore local government elections either.
Council polls were suspended in 1979 by the Saint Lucia Labour Party-led government.