Contesting parties should commit to code of conduct
- President urges - PPP/C

Guyana Chronicle
January 27, 2001

PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo last night urged all parties contesting the scheduled March 19 elections to commit to a code of conduct.

His appeal came in an address to the nation following the ruling yesterday by Justice Claudette Singh in the December 1997 elections petition case.

Here is the text of the President's address:

"On January 15, Justice Claudette Singh ruled on an election petition by Ester Perreira which sought to overturn the results of the general elections held on December 15, 1997.

The judge ruled against the contention of the petitioner that the results of the elections be overturned, but ruled in favour, only, of the petitioner's claim that the use of ID cards in the elections violated the constitutional right to vote.

I had intended to address you after Justice Claudette Singh's ruling on January 15 on the election petition. However, since remedial orders were not made at that time it would have been premature to do so.

During that period, I had urged all Guyanese to adopt a responsible position and refrain from speculation and making inflammatory statements or in any way create tensions.

This afternoon, the judge ordered that all legislative and executive acts made by Parliament and government since December 15, 1997 are and will remain valid until a new government is elected on or before March 31, 2001.

The judge, in simple terms, has therefore ordered that your President, the Cabinet and the government continue in office to perform their mandate.

The Parliament shall, likewise, continue to perform its functions for the purpose of enacting legislation necessary to give effect to the Herdmanston Accord and St Lucia Statement and for the holding of elections.

We must acknowledge that the judge's ruling on January 15 and the period from that time until today has been difficult and disturbing for our country and unprecedented in its history.

We have, however, I believe, demonstrated great maturity as a people and a country by maintaining our calm and allowing reasoned judgment to prevail.

My government respects the ruling and the orders of the judge.

We remain satisfied that the judge's findings are consistent with the conclusions of the international bodies which observed the elections and with the will of the people expressed at the elections.

You will recall that prior to the judge's ruling, your government, as a matter of principle, and as a confidence-building measure, had already decided on certain voluntary limitations on the exercise of presidential and state powers during the period prior to election day.

These are
* Not to sign and enter into major international contracts;
* Not to make any appointments to key posts;
* Not to pass the national budget;
* Not to introduce new legislation in parliament without consensus.

In so far as the operation of the state media is concerned, I have instructed that they respect and conform to the code of conduct approved by the Elections Commission and to which they are signatories.

It is important now that we move on in anticipation of the March 19 elections.

In seven weeks time, Guyanese will go to the polls and exercise one of their fundamental rights -- the right to elect a government of their choice.

These elections are important as they will consolidate our democracy and the future development of our country.

All of the political parties must continue to work together to ensure these elections are conducted efficiently and can withstand the most careful scrutiny.

In the meantime, while the political parties campaign aggressively, it is, however, my conviction that all of the contesting parties should commit themselves to a code of conduct.

This will ensure responsibility and the maintenance of a climate conducive to good order and the holding of a free and fair election.

I look forward to receiving the support of every political party, civil society and every Guyanese in the forthcoming weeks as we work to guarantee the exercise of our democratic right to elect the government of our choice on March 19. Thank You. Long live Guyana."

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