The upcoming general election is expected to be grounded and focused on substance as the Deputy Governor’s office is feverishly working on a ‘Code of Conduct For Political Parties And Candidates’. This document is expected to hold the feet of campaigners to the fire by making it clear what they should and should not do or say.
It was explained that the purpose of the Code is to promote conditions that are conducive to free and fair elections. Furthermore, it was stated that the aim of the draft is to foster a climate of tolerance in which electioneering activity may take place without fear or coercion, intimidation or reprisals.
Acting Permanent Secretary for the Deputy Governor’s Office Mrs. Carolyn Stoutt-Igwe announced during a government interview that the document became necessary after certain observations were made during the 2015 elections. She said “We’ve been going down a road we should not be going down.”
“It stemmed from the manner in which campaign was done, especially during the last elections; there were some concerns expressed. We are trying to make sure that some standard is in place to make sure that persons conduct themselves in a certain manner to respect the rights of others and to respect the opinions of others. Just to make sure that things are done decently and in order,” the Acting Permanent Secretary said.
The public is expected to furnish feedback on the draft by 12 November and so far there has already been response: “We have already received feedback, I have paid attention to some of the comments that are on the blogs underneath the press release also,” Mrs. Stoutt-Igwe said as she pointed out that all views are being considered.
The Acting Permanent Secretary noted that there is a time sensitivity factor, considering that the next general elections are constitutionally due next year “We are trying to do our stakeholder consultation ahead of the draft coming back to the House of Assembly for final approval.”
Following public feedback on 12 November it was stated that the draft ‘Code of Conduct For Political Parties And Candidates’ will become a schedule in the Elections Act. “We anticipate that we will have a consolidated Elections Act going in the next general elections. “We are hoping that this Code of Conduct would become part of the actual Act,” Mrs. Stoutt-Igwe stated.
The draft code is made up of 11 sections, namely, Purpose of Code; General Principles; Application; Public Commitment, Prohibited Conduct: Politically-Motivated Violence or Intimidation; Prohibited Conduct: other Prohibited Acts; Compliance; and Duty to Cooperate; Conduct during Polling Period; Announcement of Results of Election and Respect for Media and Journalists.