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As we go to the polls

Nov 23, 2011, 12:36 PM

Gambians are no strangers to elections. Apart from the two-year interregnum between 1994 and 1996, when the military junta was in power, Gambians have been voting since the birth of the nation, in February 1965.

It may now seem superfluous to tell Gambians what to do on Election Day, but a piece of advice now and again is never a waste.

The awareness campaigns mounted by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and other organizations have been highly successful.

All the three contesting political parties have acquitted themselves well on the campaign trail.

The media has exerted itself to ensure that only truthful, factual, and helpful information that helps the election process is disseminated to the public.

The IEC has already set up 48 counting centres for the presidential election.

The arrangement promises a free and fair election given the fact that at least two representatives of each political party will be allowed in each counting centre.

In addition, accredited domestic and international observers, media representatives as well as security personnel will also be allowed to witness the vote counting in each of the 48 counting centres.

We believe that this arrangement could forestall any irregularity during the counting process.

Talking about the security personnel, we want to reiterate that they must not be seen openly identifying with any of the political parties or candidates.

As the polling centres will be opening as early as 7am, we implore all electors to go and cast their votes on time, ideally before mid-day.

We are looking forward to a large turnout because all the presidential aspirants have worked so hard, and their supporters are not about to let them down.

We also appeal to the electors to conduct themselves with discipline and a civic sense of responsibility.

They must never allow themselves to be manipulated by anyone.

At the same time, the security personnel who will be on duty on Election Day must also conduct themselves with decorum and professionalism.

Any hint of intimidation on their part could ruin the entire voting process.

Then we turn to the journalists. These are the purveyors of news.

We want to emphasize, yet again, that they must never rush to press with unconfirmed results.

In this respect, they must work closely with the media unit of the IEC to check any information before they go to press.

And finally, for the losers, we will have them know that there is always another time. Therefore, we would like them to accept their loss in good faith.

Then the winner must also be charitable enough to acknowledge the contributions of his political opponents to the evolving democratic process in the country.

We would also like to take this opportunity to commend all Gambians who have worked so hard for the success we have registered so far.

First to commend is the Gambian people. Our innate ability to tolerate divergent opinions has played us in good stead in the build-up to the presidential election.

There are family members who belong to all the political parties, yet their political affiliations have not turned them to bigots. This is how it should be. That spirit of concord and harmony should be perpetuated.

The Gambia is the only country we have. Let us therefore put all our differences aside and tread on the path of peace, progress and prosperity.

We wish all the presidential hopefuls the best of luck at the polls!

“No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent”

Abraham Lincoln