Church wants end to all physical election campaign activitiesSaturday, August 29, 2020
THE Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC) has called on the political directorate to abandon all physical in-person election campaign activities.
The call comes amidst growing public concern over the country's catapulting COVID-19 infections, and a feared surge from the August 18 nomination activities across the island, as well as the upcoming September 3 General Election.
“We take note that the events of nomination day are expected to produce another surge in positive tests. It is our view that the nation needs to focus on this existential concern as a matter of priority. Indeed, while we appreciate the Government's efforts in imposing containment measures to limit the most recent spread of the virus, we encourage them to take steps to address the likely upsurge with the same urgency it applied to the first wave of the pandemic. In this regard, we call for the abandonment of all physical in-person campaign activities,” the JCC said in a statement yesterday.
The ruling Andrew Holness-led Jamaica Labour Party and the Opposition PNP have both indicated that campaigns will be scaled down from the traditional carnival-style activities, but fears linger that next Thursday will see a repeat of the wanton abandonment of safety protocols that played put on nomination day.
The JCC is also questioning the wisdom of calling and contesting an election in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic while cases were on the increase. It said both the Government and Opposition should provide a clear rationale to the nation for their decision, to minimise growing cynicism.
“While the view by some that it may be too late to review/reconsider the decision, there's also a discernible momentum towards a contrary position given the disconcerting spike in the number of positive COVID-19 tests. Notwithstanding this, however, we believe that a clear statement of the reasons for the calling and contesting of the elections (from both the Government and Opposition) would be of immense benefit to the country,” the church umbrella group said.
The Council of Churches also pointed to concerns regarding senior citizens and other vulnerable groups being disenfranchised. “The country needs to hear clearly and repeatedly the protocols for handling persons who have tested positive for COVID-19, those in quarantine/isolation, those 65 years old and over, especially the home bound, and for persons with disabilities,” the JCC said.
It also called for clarity to be provided urgently on all procedures related to voting in a pandemic. “We ask that every effort be made to ensure the effective dissemination of the protocols. This we believe is absolutely necessary to ensure that everyone is given a fair chance to exercise their franchise,” the church grouping said