Sep 12, 2011, 12:47 PM
Six out of seven opposition parties in the country will boycott the forthcoming National Assembly Election, after declaring in a statement yesterday that they “are pushed not to participate in the National Assembly elections.”
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 has come 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 on a letter dated 5th March that the National Assembly election would be held as scheduled.
“The IEC categorically stands by this date, and the National Assembly Election will be held as planned on the 29th March 2012,” the commission said in its letter.
Among their demands to the IEC, 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.
In its statement, the opposition said it is the wish of the opposition to engage in dialogue so that a national solution would be found to a national problem, so as to safeguard national integrity.
“That we have sitting National Assembly members and other credible candidates who are ready to participate in the National Assembly elections; that we cannot afford to lose these seats by default, but cannot also participate in a process that will not earn us credibility,” the opposition stated.
It noted that if the IEC cannot handle the problem, the opposition may seek external mediation so that it would not be excluded from participation in the National Assembly elections.
The opposition leaders also went further to invite the ECOWAS, the AU, the Commonwealth and the international community to mediate to settle the impasse, so that the opposition will not be excluded from putting up candidates in the parliamentary polls, by postponing the elections to a more appropriate date.
However, in a dramatic move, Hamat Bah, leader of the opposition National Reconciliation Party (NRP), who himself was involved in the talks of the opposition, told this paper yesterday that his party will contest the polls.
“My party refused to be convinced that we should boycott the elections. We believe that the Independent Electoral Commission has always not fulfilled its promise on conducting free and fair elections,” Bah told The Point.
“My party believes that the IEC should be given the chance to be proven right or wrong in this election,” he said.
He added: “Those candidates who want to contest are saying that the same situation existed before and during the presidential election, and we contested the polls; so why should we boycott. It is our strong position that we will participate, and not boycott the elections.”