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Parties vow to remove campaign paraphernalia

Published:Thursday | May 19, 2016 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Donna Parchment Brown, Jamaica's political ombudsman.

With a firm commitment from the general secretaries of the two major political parties to engage the candidates/members of parliament (MP) who ran for a seat in the February 25 general election to get their support in removing all political flags, banners, posters, and paintings on or before Labour Day, Political Ombudsman Donna Parchment Brown said she is holding the parties to this written pledge.

In a letter signed by the People's National Party's Paul Burke and the Jamaica Labour Party's Dr Horace Chang, the two general secretaries said the clean-up campaign would "demonstrate to the general public and our fellow Jamaicans our commitment to good order and our respect for all".

Asked what action would be taken if the political parties failed to carry out their commitment, the political ombudsman said she would write a letter to the party leaders listing all the offending constituencies and candidates.

"If they don't act in a timely manner, the information will be released to the public," she said.


Circulate information


Parchment Brown said the general secretaries had agreed to circulate the information internally to all candidates in the February 25 election.

"In relation to the flags, and so on, they are eyesores - they are fading, they are ripped - and they should not have been there in the first place," she contended.

"Some of the billboards have a party campaign slogan, or they have a 'vote for me', which is no longer relevant. We are now in a period where we want unity," Parchment Brown reasoned.

"My job is to minimise the conflict opportunities between the parties, and some of the reports I have had are that people on the other side - that could be either party - are saying they are going to mash it up, they are going to paint it over, they are going to tear it up. This could create another source of conflict," she added.

Parchment Brown told The Gleaner that she had dialogue with representatives from some parish councils and was informed that many of the billboards erected in the run-up to the election were installed without the requisite permit for putting up signage across Jamaica.

When Parchment Brown engaged some MPs about the taking down of election paraphernalia, she received varying feedback. She said some MPs promise to remove them, while others claimed that their signs had been removed.

She noted, however, that there were some MPs who apparently made no effort to have the signs taken down.

At least 83 days have passed since the February 25 general election and despite the signing of the political code of conduct by the parties or the candidates themselves, many remain in breach of the code as they maintain billboards with their portraits and have flags littering light poles in a number of constituencies.