Representatives of various political parties assembled at Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM)’s Kingston office yesterday for a hasty signing of the GECOM code of conduct, just three days before general and regional elections.
Federal United Party (FEDUP) and Organisation for the Victory of the People (OVP) did not sign the code of conduct, as their representatives were absent. GECOM Chair, Justice Claudette Singh said that the absence of any party from the signing should not be an indication that they are not in agreement with the code.
In an address, the Chair urged that the general and regional elections be free of hate speeches, incitement and provocation “which may invoke emotions in an already charged atmosphere”.
By signing on to the code the parties have recognised, according to the document, that peace and public order, freedom of political campaigning, and compliance with electoral laws and regulations are essential and of paramount importance to the conduct of free and fair elections.
The code widely forbids any acts of mudslinging during elections season, and other abuses aimed at tearing down other candidates or groups, especially as it relates to gender, race, class, ethnicity, language, religion, age, place of origin, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, political beliefs or affiliation.
The code also urges a peaceful post-election environment, including the acceptance of a valid election result or, in the case of an election petition, restraining the enthusiasm of supporters while awaiting judicial review.
After the signing, each party gave brief remarks. Notably, A New and United Guyana (ANUG)’s financial secretary, Jonathan Yearwood expressed disappointment at GECOM for the late signing of the code.
“This should actually have been done two months ago… We knew the election was coming. Everybody in Guyana knew it was coming. It should have been done a lot earlier so that the political parties could have been abiding by it,” Yearwood said.
“Supporters of the political parties have been slinging mud left, right and centre. Nobody has been checking them. Nobody has been condemning those supporters.”
He suggested to the Chair that in the future, the code be presented to the parties much sooner.
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