May 18, 2016, 1:04 PM
Leader of the opposition National Reconciliation Party, Hamat Bah, has dismissed suggestions and reports that his breaking ranks with the opposition to contest the parliamentary elections is an indication that he is under the government’s payroll, stressing that his conscience is clear.
“These are mere lies and propaganda, which has been said over and over by some people, but I will always prove them wrong,” Bah furiously told this paper yesterday.
In a telephone interview from his Upper Saloum constituency, where is currently preparing for his campaign for the parliamentary elections, Bah told The Point that his NRP party has always been accused of working for the government, whenever it takes its own independent decisions.
Six out of seven opposition parties in the country boycotted the parliamentary polls, after declaring in a statement last Thursday that they “are pushed not to participate in the National Assembly elections.”
With the boycott, the opposition now loses key seats in the Wuli West, Sami, Kiang West and Jarra Central constituencies, which were all held by the opposition.
In a joint statement signed by the leaders of the opposition parties, namely UDP, PDOIS, NADD, PPP, GMC and GPDP, they said since the Independent Electoral Commission has made it categorically clear that it will not postpone the polls, to accommodate “our genuine concerns and win the confidence of our supporters we, therefore, are pushed not to participate in the National Assembly elections.”
The move came a day after leaders of the opposition called for the postponement of the scheduled National Assembly Election, citing what they said was the delay by the IEC to meet the opposition to discuss how to put the right conditions in place for genuine elections in the country.
However, the IEC rejected the criticism, insisting in a letter dated 5th March that the National Assembly elections would be held as scheduled.
Among their demands to the national electoral commission, the opposition parties called on the IEC to address issues relating to the use of state resources during campaign periods, involvement of regional governors and chiefs, as well as media bias during national elections.
“Let me say it very clearly that even during the Presidential election, I was accused of this when our party said that it would take part in the elections, but my conscience is very clear, and I would never be found wanting,” Bah declared.
According to the NRP leader, the NRP has never and will never boycott elections no matter what the circumstances.
“We will never give the APRC an easy ride. We will always make sure that we give them a good run for their money by participating fully in elections,” he stated.
In his view, the political environment was worst during the presidential election, but the opposition never thought of boycotting the polls.
“Now they want us to boycott the parliamentary polls; the NRP will never be a party to it. What we should do is to participate and give the IEC the benefit of the doubt,” he said, adding that the issue of boycotting the elections was never part of the agenda during their discussions.
“Our agenda was to put pressure on the IEC to agree to our demands, but we never discussed about boycott; we are in the elections and we will be into it till the end,” Bah continued, adding that the NRP is a sovereign party, and can decide on its own.