The Antigua Christian Council (ACC) and the Antigua and Barbuda Evangelical Alliance (ABEA) have issued ‘General Election Guidelines’ to media, the electorate and political parties, candidates and their agents ahead of the March 21 general elections.
In it, the Church leaders said that when making a decision to vote, there are a number of questions which the electorate should ask themselves as they consider the suitability of each candidate and the merits of each political party.
They proposed that if all take these questions to heart and bear them seriously in mind on Election Day, all will vote wisely and responsibly; and after the votes have been counted and the results have been declared, all will, whatever the results, continue to respect all persons, whether their views are the same or not.
In the statement, the signatories–– Reverends Derek Browne, President of the ACC and Ivor Davis, Chairman, ABEA maintained that elections should be free and fair, and free from fear.
They posed the following questions to the electorate: “Does the candidate help me understand clearly the issues, problems and opportunities which face the country at this time and has the candidate convinced me that he/she and his/her party are best able to tackle these issues, confront these problems and embrace these opportunities”; “Which of these candidates has persuaded me by Manifesto or by speech that he/she and his/her party are making promises that they know they can keep?”; “Which of the candidates has shown by a life of service to the community that he/she is genuinely interested in the welfare of Antigua and Barbuda?”
The ACC and the ABEA warned political parties, candidates and their agents not to engage in character assassination of any kind, use race, country of origin, or class to vilify any individual, family or section of the society and make grandiose promises which they know cannot be kept.
“We will not use half-truths, lies or innuendoes to gain political mileage. We will address ourselves to issues and principles dealing with national growth, economic development and the wholesome advancement of the citizens of the nation. We will maintain the highest moral principles in keeping with Christian ethics during the campaign, and if elected to form the Government.”
The ACC and the ABEA also encouraged the print and electronic media to be objective and truthful in reporting on political speeches, avoid sensationalism and provide equal public coverage to the candidates of all political parties, without fear or favour and to practice objective journalism. The RC Diocese of St John’s-Basseterre is a member of the ACC.