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Statement on the Signing of the Political Parties Code of Conduct

Statement Marking Signing of the Political Parties’ Code of Conduct
By NEC Chairperson Davidetta Browne Lansanah
August 19, 2020
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• Officials of Political Parties, Coalitions, and Alliances
• Members of the Media
• Partners
• Distinguished Ladies & Gentlemen;
 
It is my pleasure to welcome you back to the premises of the National Elections Commission. Thank you for responding to our invitation, and for the support you have rendered to the Commission.
Political parties, political coalitions and alliances are central to our democracy, and the actions of their leaders, members, and supporters are essential to maintaining the peace we enjoy as a Nation.
 
It is therefore important that all political parties, political coalitions and alliances and their members and supporters help to promote conditions conducive to free, fair and credible elections in a climate of tolerance -- accepting that others have the right to present their political principles and ideas in a peaceful environment without intimidation or fear.
In fulfillment of this ideal, a two-day workshop, with assistance from the UNDP, was held on February 27th thru 28th of this year where political parties, political coalitions and alliances revised their code of conduct. By adopting this revised Code of Conduct, the parties reaffirmed their will to abide by these democratic principles, to conduct fair and non-violent campaigns. The Commission applauds the parties for this achievement, and will support the implementation of this Code.
 
Ladies and Gentlemen, since our last Inter-Party Consultative Committee (IPPC) meeting, the Commission did a downward adjustment in the budget for the 2020 Special Senatorial Elections (SSE) and Referendum. Let me take this time to share that information with you as officials of political parties, political coalitions and alliances.
 
You will recall that in October 2019, the NEC submitted a budget for the SSE and Referendum to the National Legislature in the tone of US$19,597,290.02 (Nineteen Million Five Hundred Ninety-Seven Thousand Two Hundred and Ninety United States Dollars and Two Cents). Thereafter, the NEC and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), in consideration of the economic restraints facing our Country, adjusted the budget downward to US$17,675,674.19 (comprising US$14,876,631.69 for the Special Senatorial Elections, and US$2,799,312.50 for the Referendum).
 
A few weeks ago, the NEC did an internal review to see how the budget could be further reduced, while meeting our obligation to deliver free, fair, and credible elections. One of the areas we reconsidered was the cost of the Voter Roll Update (VRU) exercise, originally scheduled on our timeline for September 1st thru the 15th. By way of information, and with you being our major stakeholders, we have decided to inform you first that an adjustment has been made to the timeline concerning the start date of the VRU exercise. The exercise will still be for 15 days, but has been adjusted to begin on September 11th and will end on the 25th.
 
Ladies and Gentlemen, you will also recall that the NEC previously announced that the voter roll update personnel were to be stationed at particulars polling centers for the duration of the VRU exercise. In reconsidering this plan, we have decided that the update teams will be mobile; meaning, each team will be required to travel to a particular polling center; remain at a center for three days to conduct the VRU; and then transition to another assigned center within the same county.
 
Having the update teams mobile reduces the number of temporary staff that will be hired and the number of vehicles to will be rented; bringing the budget from its current cost of US$17,675,674.19 to US$13,599.585.39 (Thirteen Million, Five Hundred Ninety-Nine Thousand, Five Hundred Eighty Five Dollars and Thirty Nine Cents). Reduction of the election budget is a normal process that the NEC has done several times during the past years, and this reduction will not affect the NEC’s ability to conduct the VRU exercise.
Once again, thank for the support you have rendered to the Commission, and congratulations on the signing your revised code of conduct