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Opposition pull out: blow to Gambian Democracy?

Mar 12, 2012, 12:56 PM

Six opposition parties in The Gambia have pulled out of the country’s National Assembly election scheduled to take place later this month.

They includes the country’s major opposition parties - United Democratic Party (UDP), Gambia Party for Democracy and Development (GPDP), Gambia Moral Congress (GMC), People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS), National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD) and People’s Progressive Party (PPP).

The opposition parties called for a constructive dialogue with the Independent Eelectoral Commission (IEC) to level the political playing field for genuine elections.

But the electoral commission said it will stick to its electoral programme, and last week went ahead with the nomination of candidates as planned.

Consequently, the opposition parties announced they will not participate in the parliamentary polls.

Thus ruling party candidates were nominated unopposed, which going by the election rules, at the close of nomination, also meant they were elected unopposed.

In their demands, the opposition parties urged the IEC to ensure that regional governors, security personel, district chiefs and alkalolu stop actively politicking on behalf of the ruling APRC party.

They also want to have equal media coverage, and a stop to the use of public resource by the rulling party.

However, the IEC has decided to go ahead with the National Assembly elections as planned on March 29th without the six opposition parties participating.

This development, with six political parties not participating in a National Assembly election, is unprecedented in the polical history of The Gambia.

The unfortunate situation appears to be a big blow for The Gambia’s fragile democracy.

What we can say is that The Gambia is part of the global community, and must work towards ensuring political activities in the country are in conforminy with international standards.

If not, the poor Gambians will, no doubt, pay the price.