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Darboe takes up issue with IEC boss

Nov 3, 2010, 12:04 PM | Article By: Alieu O. Jabang

Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, Secretary General and party leader of the opposition United Democratic Party, has responded to the call made recently by the chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission for opposition parties to contribute in funding the electoral process in the country.

Our readers would recall that The Point newspaper in August 2010 published an interview with IEC Chairman Alhaji Mustapha Carayol, in which he revealed that the Commission needs over US$3m to ensure the successful holding of the 2011-2013 presidential, parliamentary and local government elections.

Mr. Carayol also told The Point that the government cannot do it alone, and stressed that even the opposition should come in and support the Commission to mobilise funds.

“I appreciate his call for the opposition parties to contribute towards the running of the IEC. But do we have any say in the selection of the members of the IEC? Do we have any say in the selection of the support staff of the IEC?” Darboe asked, in an exclusive interview with our reporter last Sunday.

According to the UDP leader, what he found most disappointing about the IEC chairman’s call is that “he has not called on the APRC to contribute”.

“So, he believes that the Government of the Gambia is the same as the APRC. He cannot make the distinction between the APRC as a party, and the government of the Gambia. If he was able to make a distinction, he wouldn’t have just called on the opposition, but all political parties, the APRC included,” he said.

The UDP leader, who said he has enormous respect for the IEC chairman and his office, added that the IEC boss ought to have gone further than to say that opposition parties should go out to the grassroots and sell their programmes to the electorate.

“He knows how hostile the terrain is. I would have expected him to urge the government of the Gambia to make GRTS available to the opposition parties at all times, so that we can sell our programmes to the people,” he added.

Lawyer Darboe further said that the IEC can only conduct free and fair elections when the playing field is level. “When the playing field is not level, how does he (Carayol) expect to conduct a free and fair election,” he argued.

In a separate, but related development, the UDP leader last Sunday made a surprise visit to the villages of Gunjur, Kartong and Sanyang in the Kombo South constituency in the West Coast Region.

“I am not on a political campaign, but rather on a visit to greet and familiarise myself with the people,” Darboe told a gathering of men and women in Gunjur, noting that the welcome accorded him by the youths of Kombo South is a clear indication that they are still rallying behind the UDP.

He assured the gathering that with the current developments in the party, victory is eminent for the UDP come the general elections in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

The national president of the United Democratic Party, Dembo Bojang alias ‘Dembo By Force’, who also spoke at the meeting, said it should be the primary responsibility of every youth in the Gambia to get registered and vote, come the general elections.

According to our reporter, who was at the meeting, the youths in turn assured the UDP of their unflinching support at all times.