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Dr Bishnu Ragoonath

The Council for Responsible Political Behaviour is calling on all political parties, their leaders and supporters to give the highest value to respect, tolerance and peaceful relations among different citizens in Trinidad and Tobago.

In a statement yesterday, the council said it had noted, with grave concern, racist statements made by some members of the public and the feelings of ethnic tension and harm that these statements have inflamed. It said it condemned “all forms of overt and covert racism.”

According to the council, conversations about national issues “should be conducted in a manner that avoids racial stereotyping, violence and conflict.”

It said the election was conducted peacefully and “such peace should be maintained, regardless of different political opinions and loyalties, or precisely because such differences require that commitment to peace and ethical conduct are held in common.”

The council is calling for all in the society “to respect human rights, tolerate divergent opinions and uphold citizens’ right to make political choices and to avoid language and actions that promote hate, racism, denigration and disrespect. We call on all party leaders to send this message to the nation.”

The council is also calling on all party leaders to abide by the commitment they would have agreed to under Section 1 of the Code of Ethical Political Conduct. That section states: “The parties, coalitions and their candidates agree to: Maintain the highest moral principles and ethical standards with respect to their conduct during the campaign, the elections and the post-election period.

“Promote and enforce respect, tolerance, harmony and peace amongst their supporters and the general public during the campaign, the elections and in the post-election period by being positive role models. Refrain from practices that promote divisiveness in the society and commit to the removal of any structures (behavioural, cultural, social or organisational) which reinforce divisiveness. Confine their criticism of other political parties to the policies and programmes, past record and work.”

The council said, “As we prepare to collectively weather a difficult period ahead, resulting from COVID-19, the council hopes that citizens will make these values their priority and the basis for nation-building that improves all of our lives.”

The council members are: Dr Bishnu Ragoonath (chair); Bishop Clive Abdulah (vice-chair); Leela Ramdeen (secretary); Dr Eastlyn McKenzie; Dr Olabisi Kuboni; Brother Noble Khan; Dr Gabrielle Hosein; Dr Beverly Beckles and Ralph Peter.