With the June 12, 2023, Local Government Elections (LGE) quickly approaching, political parties, independent groups, and individuals contesting the long overdue elections signed the Ethnic Relations Commission’s (ERC’s) Code of Conduct at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) on Saturday.
Executive Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, Zulfikar Mustapha, Shazam Ally of The Citizen Initiative, and Mark France of Guyana United, were among other party representatives who signed the code.
This signing is integral as it ensures contestants promote ethnic harmony and abstain from hate speech before, during, and after the elections, in an attempt to preserve the harmonious relationship which exists between the Guyanese people.
ERC’s Chairman, Shaikh Moeenul Hack described it as significant while noting that this is the first time the Commission will be initiating this for the Local Government Elections.
“We at the ERC believe that a Code of Conduct, in the context for which we are gathered here today as the case in 2020, is crucial to and helps to advance the best interest of our country and our people.
“As a Commission, we firmly believe that as a constitutional body birthed out of political discord and one that is entrusted with the promotion of harmony and good relations, among other responsibilities, such an endeavour as this signing, becomes absolutely necessary,” the Chairman expressed.
He reiterated the call for responsible approaches to ensuring the remaining period for campaigning is free of ethnic division, discrimination, hate speech, incitement, and provocation while reminding that achieving harmony takes a collective approach with the involvement of those who hold and who aspire to hold public offices.
“We are optimistic that with sustained and genuine efforts from all, the task of promoting harmony would become less challenging. The Code of Conduct therefore becomes an important step in that journey; an ongoing journey that must never be allowed to cease.
“As we traverse this sensitive period, there is that need for a multipronged approach to help lessen tension as historical lessons would remind. The Commission, therefore, reiterates an earlier call for peaceful and free and fair elections,” he added.
Another signing will be held during the new week to facilitate contestants who did not sign the code on Saturday.
Several political parties, independent groups, and individuals have indicated that they will not be signing the code of conduct.
“We’re extending that period, with the hope that they’ll change their mind,” the Chairman expressed.
[Extracted and modified from the Department of Public Information]