Leaders of the two main Christian denominations in Guyana have issued a joint statement calling on political parties contesting Guyana's upcoming general elections to "conduct the political debate on ideas and programmes and avoid personal attacks especially on the private life of any of the candidates".
Anglican Bishop Randolph George and Roman Catholic Bishop Benedict Singh note that all citizens have a responsibility to vote in elections for the party of their choice based on high moral principles, while " parties are expected to conduct their campaign in a way that citizens will feel secure and be enlightened by the way issues and ideas are put forward and analysed."
Bishop George, descendent of Africans brought to this former British colony as slaves, and Bishop Singh, from Hindu ancestors who came as indentured (bonded) sugar cane plantation workers, called on political leaders to reject all forms of racism or racial analysis which can lead to a sense of insecurity and fear during and after the election period.
General elections are due in Guyana before year end and in the past parties mainly supported by the main Indo-Guyanese and Afro-Guyanese ethnic groups in Guyana have traded racial and often violent attacks against each other.
The bishops, who have often taken joint stands on human rights issues in the past, called on parties to support the country's Elections Commission in its efforts to work out the best possible arrangement for free and fair elections.
They also said "the electorate should expect and demand from the contending parties a measure of respect for their integrity and their ethical principles".
The ruling People's Progressive Party of former President Cheddi Jagan who died of a heart attack earlier this year is being led into the elections by his widow, US born Janet Jagan, while the main opposition party is led by former President Desmond Hoyte.