Church issues code of conduct for fair Nagaland polls

February 18th, 2008 - 4:55 pm ICT by admin  

Kohima, Feb 18 (IANS) The powerful Church in Nagaland has issued a set of ‘commandments’ to candidates contesting the March 5 elections, urging political parties to refrain from using alcohol and cash to lure voters. “We have given these dos and don’ts primarily to ensure a free, fair and accountable elections for the overall good of the Naga society,” Reverend Zhabu Theruza, general secretary of the National Baptist Church Council (NBCC), told IANS.

The Nagaland People’s Front and the Congress are set to witness a direct contest to the 60-member state assembly. A total of 1.3 million voters are to exercise their franchise March 5. The votes will be counted March 8.

More than 90 percent of the state’s nearly two million population is Christian.

The Church has been urging the electorate to choose responsible citizens and is making voters aware of their right to exercise their franchise.

The Church, asked to stay clear of aligning with any party, has asked candidates not to indulge in any secret agreement with individuals and clans. “We are keen that the polls should be based on issues of public interest,” Theruza said.

The ban on use of alcohol and establishment of camps by parties targeting youths have been clamped by the Church as it feels that would disturb the already fragile social fabric of the state and endanger the future of youths.

“Any design to capture booths is against the will of god,” said Theruza.

The Church and other civil society groups have also initiated interactive sessions at single platforms among candidates of different political parties with a view to evolve a set of guidelines to ensure a free and fair election.

“This is a good move and people really take the diktat of the church very seriously,” said A. Lotha, a schoolteacher.

On Saturday, five Christian organisations in Tuensang district brought candidates of different parties together with a view to hear out their respective development agenda and to ensure a peaceful poll.

“This is a good thing by the Church to issue a set of guidelines as people here are generally god fearing,” a Congress leader said, requesting not to be named.

The elections are being held under the shadow of insurgency with factional clashes between rival Naga rebel factions reaching a new high in recent weeks.

Despite a ceasefire with the Indian government, both the Isak-Muivah and Khaplang factions of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland have been engaged in fratricidal clashes.

Insurgent politics has got a new twist after some rebel cadres broke away from the NSCN-IM recently to form what is called the NSCN (Unification), leading to the situation in the state getting murkier.

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