Government respects judge's ruling - President
Urges Code of Conduct for parties

Stabroek News
January 27, 2001

President Bharrat Jagdeo last night said his government accepts the orders handed down in the elections petition case (see story on centre pages) and urged Guyanese to focus on the March 19 elections.

He said these fresh polls will consolidate democracy and the future development of the country.

In an address to the nation, he also urged the political parties to commit themselves to a Code of Conduct which would ensure responsibility and the maintenance of a climate conducive to good order and holding of free and fair elections.

And as a consequence of the restrictions placed on the use of the media by Justice Claudette Singh's order, President Jagdeo instructed the state media to respect and comply with the media code of conduct approved by the Elections Commission, to which they are signatories.

Commenting on the preparations for the upcoming elections, he stressed: "All of the political parties must continue to work together to ensure that these elections are conducted efficiently and can withstand the most careful scrutiny.

"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."

Commenting on the order by Justice Singh, President Jagdeo said that his government was "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." He described the period between January 15--when Justice Singh announced her decision--and yesterday when she issued her final order "as being 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 judgement to prevail."

He said too that ahead of the restraints imposed by the court, his government would continue to observe the voluntary strictures it had imposed on its decision-making authority "as a matter of principle and as a confidence-building measure." The limitations took effect on January 18, the day after the elections were to be held, as mandated by the January 1998 CARICOM-brokered Herdmanston Accord which had brought an end to the unrest that followed the December 1997 polls.

The voluntary restraints prevent the government from signing and entering into major international contracts; making any appointments to key posts, passing the National Budget and introducing new legislation in Parliament without consensus.

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