Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
The Election Commission of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has asserted that it will not countenance the bribery of delegates, the use of tainted money or reckless mudslinging in the lead up to the leadership election.
With Andrew Holness and Audley Shaw to square off on November 10, a newly fashioned Code of Conduct for the holding of internal elections in the organisation is now in place.
It has empowered the three-member Commission to circumvent the traditional systems of disciplinary procedures, and unilaterally impose sanctions on members found to be in breach of campaign rules.
The Code, a copy of which has been obtained by The Sunday Gleaner, is to be used as a guide in all future elections within the JLP.
It has reportedly been fashioned to protect the party against unleashing stinging barbs that can be used by rival political parties to undermine the JLP in the future.
Section 2 subsection 6 of the Code states that "where there is a complaint in writing that is sent to the General Secretary about the conduct of a member of the JLP, indicating that there may have been a breach of the Code of Conduct, the Election Commission shall convene a meeting with the relevant members and make a ruling".
The document states that notwithstanding this provision, the Election Commission can, of its own accord, summon any member to appear before it and can initiate proceedings without receiving a written complaint on any matter arising from the consultation or the election campaign.
"The Election Commission can, where there has been a breach of this Code of Conduct, impose a penalty which may include a public reprimand, if the breach is not considered to be serious," the Code states.
The Commission is also empowered to impose a sanction when the candidate or a member of his campaign team refuses to accede to a summons to appear before the body.
The Code states that where it is considered that a more severe penalty ought to be imposed, the matter is to be referred to the Standing Committee of the party for the appropriate sanction to be imposed or recommended in accordance with the party's constitution.
It also seeks to address concerns, claims and counterclaims of the campaign being heavily financed by moneyed backers.
Stipulations against bribing of delegates are spelled out in the document.
"The candidate or member of any of the campaign teams, or, member of the JLP, shall not directly or indirectly, by himself or another person, give, lend or agree to give, lend or offer promise to procure any money or valuable consideration to or for any delegate in order to induce the delegate to vote or refrain from voting for a candidate."
Tainted money scandal
And with the spectre of at least one tainted money scandal haunting the JLP from a previous internal election, although nothing to this effect was proven, the Code has moved to address such a possibility.
"The candidate must ensure that no tainted funds are accepted for the campaign."
To this end, the Code stipulates that all funds received and expenditures made, must be accurately recorded and accounts rendered to the Election Commission within 14 days of the election.
The Code also warned against members forcing delegates to reveal which candidate he/she is voting for.
It also cautions against conduct or encouragement of behaviour that can be reasonably expected to lead to volatile confrontation or increased tension between supporters and the opposing candidate.
And, with the knowledge that much of the campaign material in internal elections can be used by the rival People's National Party in national campaigns, the Code cautioned against inflammatory conduct likely to incite others to confrontation or violence, or are defamatory, malicious and can have the effect of bringing the party into disrepute or can be used negatively against the JLP.