With a record number of 251 candidates across the 53 countries, hopes are high that peaceful and successful conduct would go a long way in cementing the country’s fragile democracy.
Already, election observer groups both local and international have been accredited to observe the forthcoming National Assembly elections.
It is no gainsaying that the parliament is undoubtedly the most powerful institution in any thriving democracy. It is the parliament that carries the supreme responsibilities to ensure that the rule of law prevails, and human rights are protected, and social goods and services are delivered.
That’s why the Constitution of the Republic places the parliament at the centre in ensuring accountability in The Gambia. It is a fact that without transparency and accountability there cannot be any meaningful progress.
Meanwhile, the Independent Electoral Commission has put in place modalities to not only ensure peaceful and successful conduct, but to also make it a credible one.
As Gambians look forward to the D-day, it is important we highlight some important functions of the parliament. Among the several functions of the parliament; they are responsible for passing bills so that they could become laws of the land. They also have the powers to ratify both local and international agreements. This is one of the most important functions they perform, as dealing with nations requires both a sound and careful approach.
It is important to note that some of these laws prohibit and prevent practices and behaviours harmful to self and the community. It should also protect and promote practices and behaviours that are conducive to self and community development.
Let's remember that parliament is a perfect forum where representatives of the people express the needs and aspirations of their various constituencies. Through this, the demands, challenges and even grievances by the people they served are brought to the fore for redress.
Therefore, in this election voters should be very careful with the type of candidates they vote into parliament. Voting for wrong candidates will only add to the suffering of masses, thus retarding development.
Again, at the parliament there are committees (standing and select) that ensure sanity in the democratic process. For instance, through its Public Accounts Committees, the parliament ensures that budgetary allocations are utilised according to established procedures, for the intended purposes and in the most cost effective manner, accountable and transparent.
These Select Committees and Standing Committees also debate specific issues related to economic, social, political or any other matters of national interests. It is thus in these committees that most of the issues relating to checks and balances are carried out.
Always remember that your vote is your power. So vote wisely.