LALIT, as the Press is aware, is participating in the coming by-election. Our candidate is one of our leaders, Rada Kistnasamy, who comes from the Number 8 constituency, where he resides and works. LALIT has five teams of volunteers working in the Moka and Q. Militaire constituency.
Following last week's meeting between another LALIT leader, Alain Ah-Vee, and Electoral Commissioner Irfan Raman and ESC Chairman Yusuf Aboobaker, we took note of the changes that the ESC is intending, after consultations, to introduce. The ESC intends to use the By-election in Moka-Q. Militaire as a trial run for the changes before implementing them for any General Election.
Our Comments, already given to the Electoral Commissioner, on the issues mentioned are as follows:
1. We are in agreement with one of the principal aspects of the proposed "Code de Conduite" that candidates will be asked to sign, and which commits them not to appeal to electors by their Community or to organize communal meetings. This will, in itself, be a strong statement that the communal aspect of the Best Loser System be scrapped. LALIT calls for a broader code that also covers excessive and corrupt expenditure. In fact, we call for a simple tightening up of existing electoral expenses' law, whereby the onus is on the candidate to justify that any expenses made in his/her name are within the limit of the law, and that he/she cannot just say "Oh, that was an anonymous supporter". Our representative requested that the ESC also considers preparing a Code de Conduite for the Press for fair coverage of all genuinely existing political currents (a factual matter which can be measured by the parties' publications, actions, programme, and web-site). Although we deplore the abuse of poster-pasting that the pro-capitalist parties with their fraudulent money are guilty of during campaigns, we do not agree with the restriction on free speech that the banning of all poster-pasting represents, particularly in times when there are no elections.
2. We agree with the proposed new hours of voting (as long as elections continue on Sundays or non-work days) being 7:00 am to 5:00 pm (i.e. one hour earlier), and that there be no break for lunch either. We also agree with counting to be done in each polling station almost immediately after polling ends, and which aims to be completed the same evening (on condition that this does not become the thin end of the wedge for electronic voting, with which we do not agree for very clear reasons). It is, in fact, more democratic that each voting centre's results be known separately. This way the public can ensure that there is not post-electoral punishment or "reward" for any neighbourhood.
3. We do not however agree that Yard Agents be done away with, and this despite the abuses where certain Yard Agents hassle electors and inform their respective parties of "who" has not yet voted. The reason for our objection is an important philosophical one: the political parties must be able to observe that each elector, even in future elections where the State may be very different from what it has been until now, is spared undue pressure or false information from employees of the State. The particular strength of the Mauritian electoral system is that parties are, until now, themselves able to ensure, at all stages, that the election is being run fairly. It is not just left to civil servants.
4. LALIT wholeheartedly agrees with the proposal that candidates must withdraw, if they decide to, within 3 days, instead of the 7 days' delay that has existed until now. This will reduce the blackmail that has often been practiced, and yet still allow time for any bona fide new alliances.
For further details, please contact our candidate, Rada Kistnasamy, or our Campaign managers, Alain Ah-Vee and Rajni Lallah.