The Political Parties Code of Conduct for the 2012 Elections has been launched at a ceremony in Tamale.
The Code is very comprehensive and addresses almost all the pertinent issues relating to the relationship between the political parties and issues relating to the conduct of a free, fair and peaceful elections.
Under democratic imperatives, the 2012 Code of Conduct code provides that political parties and candidates shall publicly and without reservation condemn all forms of intimidation and political violence irrespective of the perpetrators.
Accordingly, it states that all political parties and candidates shall at all times avoid defamatory, inflammatory and foul language in
Provocative, derogatory and insulting attacks on other parties, personalities, ethnic and religious groupings by way of communication, verbal or non-verbal, shall be avoided at all times.
Under the heading “Campaigning”, the code provides that political parties, candidates, party members and agents shall desist from carrying of arms and the display of same, and shall extend co-operation to the law enforcement agencies, particularly for the purpose of recovery of illegal arms.
It goes on to state that no political party’s candidate shall take any extra legal initiative for the release of any person arrested for carrying offensive weapons during campaigning and elections, and on no account should any party or candidate initiate extra legal measures for the release of such persons from lawful custody.
Political parties, candidates, party members, agents and party workers are also reminded that they shall avoid all activities constituting electoral offences such as offering gifts and gratification or inducing other persons to stand or not to stand as well as buying voter identity cards from voters and generally bribing of voters and officials and party agents and canvassing within the precincts of polling stations on polling day and refrain from holding public meetings within 48 hours of the polls.
Other provisions relate to abuse of incumbency, enjoin political parties to refrain from using state resources for party political campaigns, bar political parties from turning state functions into party campaigns rallies, prohibit them from disrupting meetings, rallies, etc of other parties or candidates; prohibit them from removing, defacing or tampering with the paraphernalia, logos and symbols of other parties and candidates.
The objective of the code is to ensure that political parties and candidates observe all rules and regulations relating to the conduct of elections. The maintenance of public order would not be achieved unless its provisions are widely publicised, promoted and accepted by party candidates, members and supporters.
In this regard, the code requires that “every political party shall ensure that this code is made fully known to its members and that it is fully observed”.
In addition, the political parties have undertaken to publicise the code to the general public by all means available to them.
At the launch, Mrs Jean Mensah, Executive Director of the Institute of Economic Affairs, described the launch as representing another step forward in the management of Ghana’s electoral process.
“This is imperative because of the fast approaching days for the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2012.
She said that an early intervention was advisable in order to avoid any major incidents in next year’s elections.
She said that Ghana had acquired the reputation as a peaceful and democratic nation, saying “our example has been the envy of many OTHER NATIONS, PARTICULARLY IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD”.
Nevertheless, Mrs Mensah said that the peaceful atmosphere could easily be jeopardised by careless talk and irresponsible political conduct or activity.
She said that the resulting chaos may not be desired but the consequences would be no less devastating, the reason why the IEA expends attention in focusing on the cultivation of a peaceful and democratic atmosphere for the coming elections.
She called on political parties to subject themselves to their own standards as well as educate their followers to conduct themselves in a civil and morally acceptable manner.
Parties must also educate their rank and file on the provisions of the Code of Conduct and existing electoral laws, rules and regulations and avoid gender, ethnic or religious derogatory remarks.
“we should endeavour to make the provisions transcend just pious declarations and become truly enforceable obligations on the political parties and their members, she declared.