Nov 5, 2014, 10:46 AM
Now that the country is set for another presidential election, after the nomination of the aspiring candidates, there is need to ensure a level playing field for all parties.
This will only ensure that we can boast of free, fair and transparent elections, at the end of this most important national exercise.
It is, therefore, important for all stakeholders in the electoral process, such as the Independent Electoral Commission and state security apparatus, for example, to play their rightful roles with impartiality.
Regional Governors, chiefs and alkalolou (village heads) must not be involved in political campaigning, as this may not be in line with acceptable international best practices.
Governors and chiefs, and even security officers such as the police, must be warned that obstructing registered political parties from holding their rallies according to the IEC certified schedules, could result in violence, and that when this happens the local authorities would be held accountable.
Interfering with each other’s rallies could jeopardize the peace and security the country enjoys.
All nominated candidates must be allowed to hold rallies in any community in the country, if they so wish, and no village head, VDC chairman or chief has the right to stop them from doing so.
Security forces be it the PIU, police, soldiers and the NIA must ensure that security is always provided to all candidates and their supporters irrespective of their parties.
It is very sad, though, that we have seen in previous elections that in some areas, state security officers wearing the party symbols and t-shirts of the party in government. This is rather unfortunate, and the practice must be condemned.
We are therefore calling on the heads of the army, the NIA, PIU and Immigration and other services to ensure that their men and women participating in the election desist from such partisan practices.
The public media, the Gambia Radio and Television Services, GRTS, both the radio and TV sections must provide equal access to all candidates.
The reporting on public media must be fair, and comprehensive reporting without any bias.
Covering opposition parties is one thing, but showing the entire footage of their meetings is a different thing.
One thing we know, for sure, is that international and domestic observers are watching all the key players in the electoral process, including the public media, security and local authorities.
Thus the need for all to conduct themselves with professionalism, so that we have credible and violence free elections.