Speaking to journalists at the National Assembly on his mission on Thursday, Sidie M. Tunis said the purpose of his visit was to observe series of issues as the country’s election draws nearer. He said they have been looking at the preparedness of the country for the electoral processes.
“I am appealing to the people of The Gambia to know that there is only one Gambia and they must do everything possible to ensure that one Gambia is peaceful,” Mr. Tunis said. “We may have our differences but we must know that without peace, we would not talk about elections.”
He urged the citizens especially the political leaders to ensure that they guard words and avoid spreading messages that will create hatred and bring problems to the country.
“Let them preach the message of peace and stability,” he said. Mr Tunis added that the country belongs to The Gambian people. Elections come and go but the country remains.
“We have engaged key stakeholders including the speaker of the National Assembly, Chief Justice Assan B. Jallow, ECOMIG forces in the country, IEC, CSOs, NGOs and political parties among others to help promote the message of peace since we arrived. As a delegation, we have learnt a lot,” he said.
He added that the ECOWAS Parliament is the organ that represents over 300 million citizens in West Africa. “Their welfare and security is our primary concern because we represent them everywhere in the world.”
Mr. Tunis added that ECOWAS primary responsibility is to ensure that the voices of the African citizens are heard. “We want to ensure that the citizens are prepared and ready to vote,” he said.
The ECOWAS Parliament speaker further told journalists that their responsibility is to ensure a peaceful election in The Gambia.
“I am very happy with the support that the IEC is getting from the government,” he said. While on his mission, Tunis expressed gratitude to the ECOWAS for supporting The Gambia’s electoral process.
“The IEC has assured us a peaceful election. Our vision is to see a free, fair and transparent election which is free from any forms of harassment and to ensure a peaceful democratic transition.”
Mr. Tunis further said one of the issues that was brought to his attention by stakeholders was the access to the state media by political parties. He added that politicians are complaining that the public broadcaster is not covering their activities. “I have already discussed these issues with the ECOWAS ambassador to work on them as soon as possible,” he concluded.