Code of Conduct for political parties expected to be signed next week

By today, a revised Code of Conduct for political parties will be disseminated and hopefully, by mid next week, the parties will sign on to it, Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Dr Steve Surujbally says.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday at City Hall where parties were presenting their lists of representatives for the May 11 general elections, Surujbally said that he doubted there would be any problems with the amendments and by mid next week, he hoped that the parties would “sign with some fanfare.” Once this is done, it is the responsibility of the parties to adhere to the tenets of the code, he said.

He had noted that the revisions to the 2011 Code of Conduct for the parties will be sent out and by Monday or Tuesday next week, GECOM expects to hear back from the parties as to whether or not they would be accepting the changes.

Dr Steve Surujbally
Dr Steve Surujbally

Meantime, US Chargé d’ Affaires Bryan Hunt said that in the charged political climate of Guyana, a Code of Conduct for political parties would be beneficial. “In a politically charged climate, it is going to be very important that all candidates who are contesting the election and indeed all representatives of political parties make a special effort to avoid making any statements that could be seen as derogatory or (inciting) on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation or religion,” he told reporters at City Hall.

The code of conduct is one component to the host of other mechanisms that seeks to foster a transparent Election Day process. It is also expected that various Election Day observers will be present to monitor the elections.

Surujbally said that currently local observers are keen to play their roles in the election process and “everybody and their uncle wants to get into the act which is great.”

He said that while the Organisation of American States representative to Guyana, Jean Dormeus attended Nomination Day at City Hall, the commission has not been contacted formally as yet by other international entities. The GECOM Chairman said that the OAS would be sending a precursor group this week which would then have to go back and report their findings prior to a mission being finalized. He said the same process would follow for other international entities such as UNASUR or even the Carter Center.

As it relates to Nomination Day itself, Surujbally seemed pleased with the process. He noted though that some signatures on one party’s lists seemed similar and the commission would be looking into it. “They pointed out to me that … one of the lists, I can’t remember which one, there seems to be four signatures that were very similar so they will look into that and call the party,” Surujbally said.

He pointed to Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield’s background and given the meticulous way in which the lists will be checked and verified, expressed full confidence that any discrepancies will be identified and the parties will be made aware.

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