Saturday, May 12 completed the election cycle in The Gambia. The people of the country went to the polls to elect Mayors and Chairpersons of the Area Councils. This marked the completion of this cycle as the presidential, parliamentary and councilor elections had been done earlier on.
This election cycle has indeed been an interesting one from which many lessons were learnt. It saw the electorate vote out a sitting government and usher in a new president. The National Assembly Election was hard fought but freely and fairly conducted. So were the mayoral and chairperson elections which saw the United Democratic Party sweep the polls.
Though emotions ran high sometimes, and candidates and their supporters displayed love and support for the municipalities, the election was generally peaceful and was conducted in a free and fair manner. Now that it’s over, the time has come for the people of the different municipalities and area councils to start work in earnest to develop the country
Perhaps the most heartwarming aspect of this election was the fact that some female candidates contested, and one of them, Rohey Malick Lowe did actually win. The time has come for our womenfolk to take their right positions in the political scene. There cannot be any form of development in a nation without the active participation of women. So, bravo to the women candidates. We hope to have more women coming to participate in elections next time.
Perhaps the only downside to this election was the woeful voter turnout. The problem of voter apathy is becoming a bane in our democracy. It is unfortunate that in all these three rounds of election there hasn’t been a turnout of up to fifty percent of the electorate. This must change. People must fulfil their civic duty of voting.
To that end, everyone has a role to play: the government, through the National Council for Civic Education, the Independent Electoral Commission, the Political Parties, Civil Society Organizations, and indeed all citizens must work together to change the trend.
Congratulations to the Gambian electorate! You are the winners!