LG elections promote, build LG elections

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Gambia’s electoral commission chairman Alieu Momarr Njai has said local government elections constitute a key pillar in the promotion and building of grass roots democracy, saying it brings citizen representation to the door step of the voters.

Addressing a training of trainers’ gathering ahead of this month’s Mayoral and Councilors’ elections at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Senegambia over the weekend, chairman Njai explained that it is through local government representation that citizens can raise concerns for the provision of basic social and development facilities such as roads, car parks, street lights, markets, refuse disposal, management of local resources and services. “Elections should be everyone’s business and this approach will surely yield credible election results that would be accepted by all the players in our political and electoral process, both national and international.”

The training was meant to bring together all players in the electoral process to discuss the various roles they play in the conduct of free, fair and transparent elections. The training was attended by the electoral commission members, security and political party leaders.

Chairman Njai highlighted that it is clear to all that elections are universally recognized to form a very important role in safeguarding the desired peaceful environment of any nation and believed that at the end of the training, all the participants will be fully equipped with the requisite knowledge to conduct the election.

He stressed that Section 26 of The Gambian Constitution stated that, “every citizen of the Gambia of full age and capacity shall have the right without reasonable restrictions to take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives to vote and stand for election at genuine periodic elections for public office, which elections shall be by universal and equal suffrage and be held by secret ballot.” He said a total number of 409 candidates were nominated during the nomination period and all of them have the right to campaign freely in their respective wards.

Chairman Njai called on political parties to sensitize their followers on their agendas, saying they should preach peace and accept the election results where elections are free and fair. “It is incumbent on them to advocate for massive voter turnout by performing this wide variety of functions and political parties find themselves as drivers of democracies.”

He appealed to all political parties to recruit suitable polling agents who will be able to read and complete forms and follow simple instructions, interested in the electoral process, uphold team work and are knowledgeable about the community in which they will be working in on polling day.

He emphasised that the security of the nation should not be taken for granted, saying the security services are to maintain peace and order throughout the campaign period. “The Gambia has made an indelible mark in the realm of elections and with concerted efforts from all stakeholders, the laudable gains that we have so far achieved together will be further consolidated in the conduct of free, fair and transparent elections.”

Author: Pa Modou Cham