Feb 1, 2013, 10:25 AM
The leader of the opposition National Reconciliation Party (NRP), Hamat Bah, has vowed that his party will never surrender to the ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) party, stressing that no amount of arrests, detention or intimidation can stop them from exercising their rights.
Bah, currently on his campaign to regain the Upper Saloum seat, in the March 29 parliamentary polls, which he lost to APRC’s Sainey Mbye, was speaking in a telephone interview with The Point yesterday.
Bah claimed in the interview that two of his party militants were arrested and detained, only to be released after the intervention of the Independent Electoral Commission, IEC.
“They have started harassing our supporters, but we will fight to the end; nothing can stop us, and nothing can make us surrender to the APRC,” Bah said.
He added: “No amount of arrests, detention or intimidation can deter our people from exercising their fundamental rights of choosing the representative of their choice.”
According to him, one of his supporters, Abdou Jawo, was arrested in the village of Mbayen Sanjal and detained at the Farafenni police station, after he was found with an NRP flag.
“He was locked up in a cell at Farafenni after he was found with an NRP flag, but was released the following morning thanks to the intervention of the IEC,” he told The Point, adding that another of his supporters was also arrested and detained briefly by the police.
Declaring that the IEC is doing its utmost best and cooperating with his party so far, Bah accused regional governors, chiefs and security agents of spearheading the campaigns of APRC candidates in each region.
“The APRC candidates are followed by security agents who are with them in their campaign teams, while the regional governors and chiefs serve as campaign managers of the candidates,” he said, adding that this will never deter his party from participating in the polls.
“The fight is on and we will continue till the end, no matter what,” Bah stated.
Hamat Bah’s NRP party is the only opposition party taking part in the polls, after six other opposition parties boycotted the parliamentary polls, declaring in a statement that they were pushed not to participate in the National Assembly elections.
He broke ranks with the opposition, insisting that the NRP has never and will never boycott elections, no matter what the circumstances.
In his view, the political environment was worst during the presidential election, but the opposition never thought of boycotting the polls.
He also stated that the issue of boycotting the election was never part of the agenda during their discussions.
While the ruling APRC party is optimistic of sweeping the polls, the opposition maintains calls for the postponement of scheduled polls, 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 that the National Assembly election would be held as scheduled.
The APRC now faces election in 23 constituencies against 19 independent candidates and eight from the opposition National Reconciliation Party (NRP). 24 parliamentary seats have gone unopposed.
Bah is coming into the race for the Upper Saloum seat, which he previously held before he was defeated by incumbent Sainey Mbye of the APRC.
The two are also being challenged by an independent candidate.