Need for political tolerance

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Indeed, virtually all Gambians will quite agree with us that we should never allow partisan politics to divide us, no matter what.

Politicians come and go, but our family ties and social fabric that bind us together should remain unfettered and resistant to divisive politics.

As we move ahead toward the forthcoming presidential election, due late next month, we want to urge all our politicians to not only have this in mind, but also to uphold such a principle.

This country is not only very small and homogeneous, but we all tend to be inter-related like one large extended family. This makes it the more important reason why tolerance and forgiveness will go a long way in cementing our society.

Therefore, it is extremely important that we play our partisan politics with a lot of caution in order not to step on each other’s toes.

It is one thing to support one political party or candidate, but certainly that does not give anyone the license to trample upon the rights of others.

There is no denying the fact that people who live together cannot avoid trampling on each other’s toes and, therefore, forgiving and forgetting past differences should be a norm in the way they relate to each other.

The constitution guarantees each and every Gambian the right to participate in politics, and to support any political party of his or her choice.

Therefore, no one should be victimised, either in their place of work or anywhere else, for supporting the political party of their choice.

Indeed, the 1997 constitution is quite explicit on that. It states under Political Rights in section 26 that Every citizen of The Gambia of full age and capacity shall have the right, without unreasonable restrictions -

(a) to take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives;

(b) to vote and stand for elections at genuine periodic elections for public office, which elections shall be by universal and equal suffrage and be held by secret ballot;

(c) to have access, on general terms of equality, to public service in The Gambia.

Therefore, there is absolutely no legal cause to compel anyone to support any political party or to prevent anyone from supporting the political party of one’s choice.

“The highest result of education is tolerance”

Helen Keller