May 10, 2011, 3:47 PM
A political leveling field is an essential requirement of any free, fair and transparent elections.
For us to have credible elections, all stakeholders, such as the IEC, political parties, candidates, party supporters, local authorities and the security apparatus must all adhere to the ethics of elections.
The 1997 Constitution of The Republic of The Gambia gives rights to all eligible citizens to vote, and be voted into office.
In the same vein, people are free to choose either to contest elections under a party ticket or as independent candidate.
This constitutional provision makes it mandatory for anyone wishing to contest as an independent candidate, either as a mayor or a councillor to contest the elections.
Therefore, it must be made categorically clear that it is not a crime for any individual who wants to stand as an independent candidate to do so.
Consequent upon this, no candidate should allow himself or herself, to be threatened or intimidated, if he or she decided to contest as an independent candidate in any election, including Local Government Elections.
Having been successfully nominated as an independent candidate, by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), they were given the authority to fight for the various seats.
It must also be made categorically clear that voting for an independent candidate is not a crime.
Democracy is all about people’s ability to make informed choice, and to freely choose their leaders or representatives, without being forced or dictated to do so.
Indeed, in any nation where true democracy prevails, the political environment must be conducive for the conduct of a healthy political competition and fair elections.
We are very much concerned about the purported arrests and soul-searching for the independent candidates in Tallinding and Janjangbureh in the Kanifing Municipality and Central River Region, respectively.
We urge the concerned authorities to investigate these matters and to ensure that people exercise their political rights without fear and intimidation of any form.