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Political parties sign ‘Code of Conduct’ with NMCM

Political parties sign ‘Code of Conduct’ with NMCM

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The National Monitoring Council Mechanism (NMCM) has been called on to be more vigilant in terms of registering the irregularities they observe during the general elections so that they could be dealt with accordingly.

The appeal was made by president of the Christian Council Monsignor Michael Stewart at the signing of the Code of Conduct for the December 9 elections, at the Methodist Church Hall{{more}} on Tuesday.

Leaders of the Unity Labour Party (ULP), the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Democratic Republic Party (DRP) all signed, indicating their parties’ commitment to adhere to the provisions of the Code (see full Code on page 25).

“To this end the NMCM has engaged monitors who are deployed to the campaign sites to be the consciences on the ground in this pre-election phase and who will be active also on the day of general elections,” said Stewart.

By signing the code of ethical-political conduct, the parties pledged themselves to foster a democracy through peaceful, free and fair elections, conducted at regular intervals, in which voters are permitted to cast their ballots freely without interference, fear, intimidation or bribery.

The signatories also agreed to promotion of respect for human rights, the pursuit of civil and political liberties, the tolerance of divergent opinions, full and active participation in all the political process; to encouraging participation in the electoral process by the people and to uphold their right to make political choices, therefore promoting an election process free from violence.

“This code of conduct is not a legal instrument, it is precisely because of the values and goods enshrined in it… that we undertake this exercise,” Stewart said.

He further added, “the code discourages the use of half-truths, lies, innuendoes or bribes to gain political advantage or the use and abuse of state resources for political campaigns.”

Given its mandate, deriving from the Grand Beach Accord May 2000, the NMCM will endeavour to ensure that this ideal does not remain a dream, but becomes a reality of all Vincentians.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves assured Stewart that he will abide by the code, also mentioning that meetings of the ULP have so far been orderly and disciplined.

He further declared that that the ULP will be peaceful, clean, and non-violent and will speak out and ask supporters who do not adhere to refrain.

“I want at the end of this campaign that we can look back and say that we have been engaged in an endeavour in which we can all be proud as a people,” he said.

The ULP political leader asserted that undoubtedly the campaign will continue to be robust; there will be picong, but that doesn’t mean that it has to degenerate to the gutter.

He disclosed that he has also asked CARICOM and the Orginazation of American States (OAS) to join the NMCM in monitoring to ensure a safe election.

“When under my leadership we beat the NDP for a fourth time, I want nobody to say we steal the elections, that we had an… unfair elections,” Gonsalves asserted.

Chair of the NDP Dr Linton Lewis, who attended on behalf of NDP president Arnhim Eustace, added that the code of ethics is designed to ensure that the conduct of the general elections is morally correct and the NDP believes it should be followed.

Lewis added that although the code is not legally binding, his party feels obligated to follow it as they have previously done.

Leader of the newly formed DRP Anesia Baptiste encouraged a violence free election, adding that candidates promote peace or incite violence and war, therefore they have a responsibility because of their political influence.

“I give my commitment as a proposed candidate to obey the guidelines of the Code of Ethics and I am conveying also the commitment of the other candidates of the DRP,” said Baptiste.

Additionally, she declared that she will condemn any candidates and supporters of the DRP that involve themselves in negative activities. She then reiterated that persons have rights to freedom of assembly.

Provisions in the Code include: ‘Candidates will maintain the highest moral principles and ethical standards with respect to their conduct during the campaign, the elections and the post-election period… Candidates will not engage, recruit or deploy an individual(s) for the purpose of violence, intimidation or harassment, including intimidation by congregating in groups wearing similar identifiable colours at or near to election stations on Election Day… ‘Candidates will not permit the use and abuse of state resources for political campaigns… Each party shall have equal free time on the National Broadcasting Corporation. The principle of equality shall also hold for other electronic media, in so far as free access is concerned… Political parties shall avoid defacing public buildings and structures. The rights of private property owners shall be respected.’(AS)

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