Issued Tuesday 28 March 2017
Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Chairman Alieu Momarr Njai has appealed to all political parties to recruit suitable polling agents.
He made this appeal Saturday during the Training of Trainers session for the National Assembly Election slated for 6 April.
The training is under way at the Paradise Suites Hotel, Kololi.
Chairman Njai said political parties should recruit agents who are able to read, complete forms and follow simple instructions.
Party polling agents should be interested in the electoral process, uphold team work and be knowledgeable about the community in which they will be working on polling day.
Political parties are essential for both the emergence and consolidation of democracy, he said: “Some of the imperative functions performed by political parties are to represent the people and articulate their demands, reconcile diverse needs and aspirations that exist within society, interpret them into manageable programmes, and structure electoral choice.”
The IEC chair said the paramount things among what political parties should do at this point in time is to sensitize their followers on their agendas, and they should continue to preach peace and accept the election results.
He said it is incumbent on them to advocate for massive voter turnout and, by performing this wide variety of functions, political parties find themselves as drivers of democracy.
In her remarks at the opening ceremony of the training course, Isatou Jallow-Ndure, IEC commissioner and the returning officer for Banjul, said elections are very important in any democratic society, as Election Day is when individuals in a country exercise their rights and opportunity to participate in public affairs.
Jallow-Ndure also said elections like any major activities and guidelines, have two basic activities: the participation of individual legitimate voters at the polling station, and the act of voting by casting the ballot in the drum.
“I am appealing to political parties to sensitize their party agents, to know what their role and functions are during polling day, and all presiding officers must cooperate with agents because they have an important role to play. He/she must not allow them to take full control, distract or interfere in the polling process,” he said.
Commissioner Jallow said that to ensure there is peaceful election, the political candidates and parties should respect the rights and freedom of other parties and candidates, adding that on this important national day respect should be shown to all the electorate and all those participating in the election.