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Antigua churches want code of conduct for elections

St. John’s — The religious community will be asking those vying to represent the public at the next general election to sign a code of conduct, which will govern their behaviour throughout the political process.

That’s according to President of the Antigua Christian Council, Bishop Kenneth Richards, who said the body would address the issue at its next general meeting.

“For the upcoming election, the church will be interested in establishing a code of conduct for the various persons who are competing for office in the election, that there is a common understanding with respect to probity, honesty, etiquette, and not being inflammatory,” Richards said.

The head of the local Catholic Church said the push for a code of conduct follows an international meeting on the subject last year.

“The vice president of the Christian Council attended an international conference in December, with respect of the church’s involvement in monitoring political campaigns,” he said.

Richards said the council intends to bring other “umbrella” religious bodies, such as the United Evangelical Association, on board for input when drafting the document.

Meeting of minds

“The council will need to sit down, and this is where meeting with the other umbrella groups is important, so we can have a meeting of minds,” he said.

“I am new to the island, so I would have to rely on the wisdom and knowledge and experience of the other ministers who have been here for a longer time, to advise me on some of the things we need to be wary of and to provide oversight at the next election.”

Last February, Bishop Richards, originally from Jamaica, was elected to head the Diocese of St John’s Basseterre, which encompasses Antigua & Barbuda, St. Kitts Nevis, Anguilla, Montserrat and the British Virgin Islands.

The Bishop said although some are uneasy about mixing the two, the church has a place in politics.

“In so far as politics touches the lives of persons, the church is concerned about people and so anything that is going to affect people, the church has a role to play. That is the reason we will get involved,” he said. (Antigua Observer)

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