May 19, 2020, 1:40 PM
In early March 2020, The Gambia Government declared a state of public health emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit country just as it has on the rest of the World.
The forthcoming by-elections come following the notification by IEC on the demise of the Member of Parliament for Niamina West Constituency Demba Sowe in January 2020 and the resignation of the Councilor of Kerr Jarga Ward, Alpha M. Khan.
Therefore, the community outreach forms part of NCCE’s mandate in a bid to enlighten the people on the significance of the by-election and the need for popular participation. It was also designed to sensitize communities on the laws governing elections as stated in the election Act and the need for a violent-free campaign and elections.
Yusupha Bojang, NCCE programme manager, said the community sensitisation, starting 20th October 2020, is expected to last for at least a week, covering 14 major communities in each of the two areas ahead of the by-elections.
The objective of the campaign, he added, is to promote civic awareness for increased electoral participation and to curb the high voter apathy that usually characterises National Assembly and Area Council elections.
“It is also meant to strengthen peace during the process. This we believe will significantly contribute to high voter turnout and maintain peace during the electoral process”.
Bojang advised people to be law abiding, exercise tolerance and maintain peace before, during and after the elections. “The potential electorates are advised to always remember that in an election, there must be a winner and whether your choice wins or not, that should not cloud your mind to the point of compromising the peace and stability of the country.”
“It is a civic duty on every Gambian to consolidate the peaceful co-existence The Gambia is known for. Since every citizen has a right to express his/her views and be heard, naturally differences are likely to occur. But let us learn to tolerate each other when such differences occur.”
He further added; “The use of force, intimidation, slander, provocation and thugs are threats to our fragile democracy and peace, thus people were encouraged to desist from such undemocratic and unlawful acts. Tolerance and respect for the rule of law are very critical in the maintenance of peace during an electoral process.”
NCCE programme officer thus reminded that the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia acknowledges the importance of political tolerance in the country’s democracy and thus enjoins the State to endeavor to secure and promote a society founded on the principles of freedom, equality, justice, tolerance, probity and accountability.
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