#Headlines

CSO Coalition fears divisive political rhetoric could retard country’s peace, stability

Jul 8, 2021, 2:37 PM

The CSO Coalition on Elections-The Gambia spearheaded and coordinated by WANEP-The Gambia has raised concerns that increased incidences of divisive political rhetoric could evidence a backsliding of the country’s peace, stability and social cohesion.

CSO Coalition on Elections – The Gambia’s 2nd Preliminary Statement Voter Registration Observation also noted that the start of the raining season could also hamper the turnout for the voter registration exercise as some citizens would prioritise their farms than going to register.

“The CSO Coalition condemns the violent incident that happened at Mandaur and calls on all political parties and their militants to adhere to the constitutionally prescribed processes. There is a need to discontinue violent rhetoric and resolve any electoral disputes by lawful and peaceful means,” it says in its Election Observation report.

The CSO Coalition – The Gambia, spearheaded and coordinated by WANEP, is a homegrown national platform established in 2006 to facilitate and enhance CSOs’ participation in elections and electioneering, democracy and good governance. With a membership of 30 Civil Society Organisations, the CSO Coalition on Elections continues to participate and influence public policy through election observation and conflict monitoring.

A team of 53 observers have been deployed in all the seven administrative regions to observe the general voter registration exercise. In this preliminary statement, the Coalition offers a summary of its 2nd key observations from the voter registration exercise.

Findings

Since the start of the registration exercise, the Coalition has observed the opening and closing in urban and rural registration centers. Below is a summary of the Coalition’s observation as at 29th June, 2021.

  • Unlike the first week, significant improvements have been observed leading to better efficiency which has reduced the delays encountered previously in the printing of voter cards. A general climate of calm and peace prevail across most voter registration centers
  • Challenges still remain with the issuance of attestation, generating accusations and counter accusations and even violence in some instances in certain communities;
  • At Sare Ngai in Upper River Region, there have been reports of non-Gambians registering, the issue led to confrontation between suspected NPP supporters and the security forces, where IEC officials at the said center are reported to have been harassed and intimidated by the said NPP supporters, the commotion led to suspension of registration for about half an hour;
  • The security officers who tried to stop non-Gambians from registering were asked to report at the Immigration and Police Headquarters in Banjul for investigation and they fear that they could be penalized for just stopping non-Gambians whose record they have as regular payers of alien fees;
  • In URR, there have been instances of people who appeared as minors being permitted to registered;
  • At Sinchu Alhagie, four copies of photocopied Attestation Forms were found in possession of a particular party agent, the matter was reported to IEC Head Office, who communicated to the party and the agent was said to be replaced the following day by another agent;
  • The Alkalo of Niamina Catamina is reported to have given the Alaklo’s stamp to an individual suspected to be a staunch United Democratic Party UDP supporter attesting people in the community;
  • Registration was disrupted in Manduar, Kombo Central, West Coast Region as tensions flared over arguments on who has authority to issue attestation
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