The presidential candidates of the following parties signed on to the Code of Conduct: A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), signed by David Granger; Alliance for Change (AFC) signed by Khemraj Ramjattan; People’s Progressive Party/Civic signed by Donald Ramotar; The United Force (TUF) signed by Peter Persaud; and East Berbice Development Association (EBDA) signed by David Subnauth who is contesting regional elections only.
Among the tenets of the Code of Conduct are: the belief in the sanctity of human life, and the abhorrence of taking human life coupled with the denouncing of violation of anyone because of that person’s political allegiance; the opposition to and rejection of the use of violence and intimidation or plans of this nature by any political candidate, agent, member or supporter as a means of expressing political support or furthering political objectives; the commitment to non-violent relations between its candidates, agents, members and supporters and those of other political parties; accountability and transparency and the opposition to and rejection of any disrespect leveled at media houses and media practitioners.
The Code of Conduct is a document that was prepared with the input of all political parties contesting the elections, as they recognized the need for peace and public order, freedom of political campaigning, and compliance with electoral laws and regulations as being essential and of paramount importance to the conduct of free, fair and credible elections.
GECOM’s chairman, Dr Steve Surujbally said that the Code of Conduct is not an illusion as it was not conceived as a transitory, fly-by-night document.
“I have no doubt whatsoever that you all are convinced that the objectives and tenets enshrined in this Code of Conduct for Political Parties contesting the 2011 General and Regional elections are in fact both meritorious and virtuous… Signing on to the Code is simply the right thing to do… Adherence to the Code elevates all concerned to a moral high ground — away from the currently deteriorating thrust and party of political campaigning,” Surujbally said.
He further noted that the Code cannot be faulted as it is not punitive, its essence is self-regulatory, and it is neither complex nor complicated, as the Code recognizes that peace and order, compliance with electoral laws, respect for opponents and the electorate are important.
“GECOM must not be placed in a position of trying to manage and produce credible elections in an environment of hostility and turbulence… It is for these reasons that these gentlemen, who aspire to manage the affairs of Guyana for the next five years, are prepared to endorse the contents of this all-encompassing Code… Once this conviction is shared by all contesting political parties, then campaign behaviour will inevitably result in the singular focus of healing — not promoting, not exacerbating any existing social fissures and cleavages,” Surujbally said.
He urged the political parties not to allow the Code of Conduct to be weakened by distrust, petulance, vexation, petty discontent or manufactured resentment.
“By signing you have talked the talk; now you must walk the walk,” Surujbally said.