THE ABSENCE of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar from the signing of the Code of Ethical Political Conduct was slammed by political leader of the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) Lyndira Oudit yesterday.
The code is a nine-page document which was produced by a committee of civil society representatives chaired by Roman Catholic Archbishop Joseph Harris.
It is expected to achieve four objectives: foster democracy, promote respect of human rights, encourage participation in the electoral process and promote an election process free from violence.
Section Five of the Code calls for the establishment of A Council for Responsible Political Behaviour to “monitor and evaluate adherence to the Code of Ethical Conduct by the political parties and their candidates” who have signed it.
The code mentions possible sanctions for breaches but it is up to the council to provide suggestions for the implementation of the code.
That signing process took place at the residence and office of Harris located at Queen’s Park West in Port of Spain at 4 p.m. yesterday.
Space was provided for seven of the country’s political parties to sign the document. Two were absent; the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) and the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC).
Harris said he would be travelling to Tobago later this month where the signature of the TOP is expected to be affixed to the document. No word was given for the absence of NJAC.
The first party to sign was the COP.
Party chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, the Minister of Public Administration, and party vice chairman Nicole Dyer-Griffith signed for the COP.
ILP chairman Jack Warner and Oudit signed for that party.
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley and party chairman Franklyn Khan signed for the People’s National Movement (PNM).
UNC chairman Khadijah Ameen signed for that party.
Political leader David Abdulah and chairman Vincent Cabrera signed for the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ).
Harris described it as a “historic moment” and said one of the representatives who produced the document called it a “miracle”.
“We believe it is a good moment for the nation and that if we can fulfill what is in the code then I think our country would have taken a step forward,” Harris said.
Following the signing ceremony the representatives of the parties spoke.
When Oudit spoke she questioned why Persad-Bissessar and Ramadhar did not attend.
“What is a little unfortunate as far as I am concerned as the political leader of the Independent Liberal Party is that with such a significant document....I see the presence of Dr Keith Rowley, the political leader of the oldest party in this country, I am the political leader of the youngest party in this country. I I think it is instructive that at this time, the significance of the political leader signing at this time, at this time it would have signalled the synchronisation of genuine effort going forward,” Oudit said.