The two leading political parties in St Vincent and the Grenadines have signed on to a code of conduct which is designed to govern the way the various parties conduct themselves during the election season.
The signing ceremony of the National Monitoring and Consultative Mechanism’s code of conduct for this year’s general elections was held at the Methodist Church Hall and saw General Secretary of the Unity Labour Party, Hon. Julian Francis, signing on behalf of the political leader the Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves. Dr. the Hon. Lorraine Friday signed on behalf of the New Democratic Party which he heads.
Speaking at the signing, ULP General Secretary, Hon. Julian Francis underscored the commitment of the ULP party’s membership and supporters to the Code of Conduct. Francis stressed that public property and billboards must not be defaced and recalled thus far such incidents; sighting the destruction of billboard for ULP’s candidate for South Leeward, Dr. Mineva Glasgow. The ULP General Secretary said “you can expect a very clean and effective campaign up until election day.”
Highlighting that it is essential to adhere to the principles set out in the Code of Conduct, President of the NDP, Dr. Hon. Lorraine Friday pointed out that the document is intended to “make our democracy one that lives up to our ideals and principles of a democracy.” Friday noted that he was a part of the process in ensuring that the code of conduct was revised and emphasized that it is “important that we understand the gravity of the process of voting.” Dr. Friday added that “those selected must reflect the will of the people” and “all actions that demean this process does not guarantee that the people are served and are led by the party and the political leadership of their choice.”
President of the SVG Christian Council Rev. Adolf Davis said both sides had time to review the Code of Conduct and make their contribution. Rev. Davis added that stakeholders in this process included the Leader of the Unity Labour Party Dr. Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, Leader of the New Democratic Party Dr. Hon. Lorraine Friday, The SVG National Christian Council, Commissioner of Police, the Management of the National Broadcasting Cooperation (NBC), and the Supervisor of Elections. The President disclosed that one of the amendments made to the Code of Conduct was that of discouraging the defacing of billboards and public property. Reverend Davis said it is important to positively influence supporters in adherence of the Code of Conduct.
Pointing out the members constituting the NMCM, member of the SVG Christian Council, Father Michael Stuart indicated that the St. Vincent Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the SVG Bar Association, The National Council of Women, the Association of Evangelical Churches, The Spiritual Baptist, The Seventh Day Adventist, The Unity Labour Party, The New Democratic Party, The SVG Green Party and the SVG Christian Council as Chair and Convener have all played their role in the finalization of the Code of Conduct.
Father Michael noted that the NMCM was born of the Grand Beach Accord on May 4th 2000, in an effort to deal with the Political impasse at the time. The NMCM has monitored the 2001, 2005, 2010, 2015 General Elections and the 2009 Constitutional Referendum. Father Michael said “the Code of Conduct is intended to foster democracy and to promote respect for human rights, to encourage participation in the electoral process and to promote an election process free from violence.” The SVG Christian Council representative also noted that “it is our hope that all Vincentians will adhere to and promote the values proposed in the Ethical Conduct.”
The Code of Conduct was signed on Friday 16th October, 2020 at the Methodist Church Hall. General elections in St Vincent and the Grenadines will take place on Thursday November 5th 2020.