GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Tuesday, January 14, 2020 (CMC) – The Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) is calling for a campaign “free of hate, violence and racial or any other form of incident”, as voters, here, prepare to elect a new government on March 2.
In a statement, the ERC said that it remains mindful of the various incidents of “intimidation, abuse and assault on Guyanese”, while they are engaged in activities supportive of their respective political parties.
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) said, over the weekend, that 13 political parties, including the ruling coalition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU)/ the Alliance For Change (AFC) and the main opposition People’s Progressive Party-Civic (PPP/C) have nominated candidates to contest the 65 seats in the National Assembly and those in the Regional administration Councils.
The ERC warned that such acts of intimidation, abuse and assault “are counterproductive to the valiant efforts being made for the fostering of unity and harmony” and “have no place in our society and must be condemned”.
It said in doing so, it wanted to remind all Guyanese of the sentiments it repeatedly expressed in the past, which would also be applicable to periods, prior and post March2, that the campaign should be “free of hate, violence and racial or any other form of incitement”.
The Commission said at the beginning of this year, in a public message, it stated its expectation for peaceful and transparent elections, in keeping with democratic principles.
“That desire remains foremost, and the Commission urges all to act responsibly and to demonstrate an unwavering sense of tolerance and respect for each other.
“Our freedoms are enshrined, allowing each and every Guyanese the democratic right to freely associate and support a political Party of his/her choice and to engage in lawful activities, concomitant with election campaigning. This must be respected.”
The Commission added it “firmly believes that incidents of harassment, the removal of party flags and prevention of persons to mount, social media incitement and attacks, including those on some performing artistes, propagation of religious preference, referencing Guyanese by ethnicity as tokenism and the alleged stereotyping of ethnic groups as “hard-headed”, are most unhelpful to building and sustaining a cohesive nation.
“The Commission reminds that while it is constitutionally-mandated to promote harmony and good relations, the task can only be realized through the collective efforts of all Guyanese. In that regard, it takes this opportunity to commend those, including public officials, who expressed disapproval over some of the actions in question.
“An appeal is therefore made to all involved for a collectively endeavour to be amicable in disagreement, to work in the best interest of Guyana and Guyanese, to build upon the bonds of togetherness and to ensure that the elections are not catalysts for division,” the ERC urged.
The Commission said it was therefore calling “for an immediate cessation of all hostilities, during and after this campaign perio, and reminds that the welfare of our dear country and its people is in the hands of all. So is peace, during and after the process”.
The Commission said it will, in the near future, embark on initiatives “to examine inherent causes, which have led to current suspicions and stereotypes and explore possible mitigating measures”.