Issued Tuesday 28 March 2017
nation should be going to the polls on 6 April for the National Assembly
elections, which is about ten days from now, as candidates are currently busy
criss-crossing the country canvassing for votes.
While we keenly monitor the process, a salient point raised by the IEC Chair at the commission’s recent meeting with the security forces is that it is determined to ensure that the upcoming elections are free and fair, as usual.
In fact, it has also just put out a clarification that there is no “Coalition or Independent Coalition candidate” registered by the IEC to contest in the elections, warning all those candidates making such pronouncement or using such a nomenclature to desist from it or “risk getting their nomination revoked”.
The IEC has also reminded all stakeholders to be tolerant with each other “so that we can have a peaceful election”.
Meanwhile, we would like to highlight several factors that are always raised or considered when it comes to free and fair elections.
These start with the integrity of the electoral commission to ensure that a level-playing field is there for all to partake well, to pave the way for a free and fair or corruption-free electoral process, which include the voter registration process, campaigning and the actual voting.
It is good to state that much of this was observed by the IEC for the December 1, 2016 presidential election, except for the hitch that resulted from the transposition of the Basse votes, and subsequently the final results, which were actually swiftly corrected.
It is expected that for the parliamentary elections such grave error would be seriously guarded against.
Meanwhile, the expressed determination to ensure free and fair elections by the IEC is appeasing, and should be encouraged and supported to ensure that our elections in The Gambia are never found wanting.
Although we are aware of the type of person our exiled former leader is, we can also say the ground for him to take advantage of the situation was laid by the IEC, who made that grave mistake in figures/results posting.
However, the Election, as stated by the IEC Chair, is the business of all, so essentially all stakeholders and the electorate are encouraged to fully partake in the parliamentary electoral process.
That is why we agree with the IEC Chair in stating that: “The IEC continues to make the clarion call that election is the business of all. In view of this, the commission wishes to fully collaborate with all stakeholders in the electoral process.”
A free and fair election, we also note, depends on freedom of speech, assembly, association and movement to ensure all members of the electorate in the society participate in elections as enshrined in sections 25 and 26 of the Constitution.
Free and fair elections depends on a transparent electoral process, impartial electoral commission, equitable electoral legislation, equal opportunities for all participants, absence of intimidation, application of the proper procedures and acceptance of electoral results, as confirmed by the IEC Chair himself.
This, we believe, should be the order of the day as we proceed towards the polling day for the current Parliamentary electoral process.
“I like honesty and fair play”