The main opposition New National Party (NNP) of former Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell has opted not to sign a Code of Conduct aimed at governing the conduct of the February 19 general elections.
The NNP outlined its position in a letter sent by its Campaign Manager, former Health Minister, Kenny Lalsingh to one of the Non-governmental Organisations, which is a key member of the Civil Society Grouping that is behind the Code initiative.
Following is the full text of the letter dated January 30, 2013:
Mrs. Judy Williams,
C/o Inter Agency Group of Development Organisations,
Agency for Rural Transformation (ART),
Dear Mrs. Williams,
Ref.: Invitation to Participate in Town Hall Meetings
We acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 28th January 2013, inviting the New National Party to participate in the Town Hall meetings in the constituencies of St. Patrick’s East and West, St Mark and St John. In that letter you make the claim that our participation would be in keeping with the spirit of the Code of Political Conduct which was drawn up by Civil Society.
We have seen the Code, and agree in principle with its Goal being “To create a political environment within Grenada which promotes free and fair elections, upholds the fundamental rights and freedoms of all citizens, upholds the rule of law, and demonstrates respect for all citizens and observance of the democratic process.”
We are also in agreement with its Objectives, being, to contribute to the holding of peaceful, free and fair elections; to ensure continuing respect for internationally recognized human, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights; to foster and encourage people’s participation in the electoral process and uphold their right to make political choices; to promote public education on acceptable political conduct, among others.
With respect to the term “political conduct” we are of the view that the term refers to the way in which participants in the political affairs of a country conduct themselves whilst engaged in political activities. It really refers to the behaviour of political persons.
In fact this definition comes out clearly in other Codes, which have been drafted in other countries. Therefore a Code of Political Conduct ought to be an amalgamation of various patterns of behaviour, which are expected from political individuals mainly to foster peaceful, free and fair elections.
Whilst the goal and objectives of the present Code fit neatly within the above definition of political conduct, we have extreme difficulty in rationalizing why Civil Society has found it necessary to include “participation in at least one town hall meeting and/or debate organized and hosted by civil society organizations at the constituency level” as a code of political conduct. In our opinion, this agenda is not a pattern of behaviour of political persons.
As a consequence of the above, we state categorically, that we have no problems with the goal and objectives of the Code and other incidentals in support of its principles, however we would have grave
difficulty in signing the Code as long as it contains the condition that the party must participate in any town hall meeting at the constituency level.
In any event, the party has been constantly engaged in disseminating information to electors in a multiplicity of villages throughout the state, so there is no question that voters have been given adequate information about candidates and about the party’s plans for the development of the country.
Please be advised therefore that your invitation to participate in the abovementioned town hall meetings as a condition of the Code of Political Conduct cannot be accepted. There must be no strings attached to the signing of the Code.
Chairman, Campaign Committee