By Nyima Bah
The Commission on Political Debates in partnership with the National Democratic Institute Monday organized a consultative meeting with the members of the Inter-Party Committee IPC, the umbrella body of Gambian political parties, ahead of its much-anticipated debate in the run up to the December 4th presidential election.
The debate will bring together aspirants seeking mandate from Gambian electorate to share their policies and programs with the ultimate aim of promoting accountability, peace and stability during electoral period.
The commission intends to partner the IPC to allow political parties take ownership of the debate process through their participation as well as disseminating the importance of participation towards enhancing peaceful cooperation and support for the process across party and supporter levels.
It also wants the IPC to formulate a resolution committing all stakeholders to participate fully in the debate process and to commit all participants to run an issue based and non-violent political campaign.
Speaking at the consultative meeting at the Kairaba hotel in Kololi, NDI resident director Raymond Esebagbon, disclosed that his institution has signed an MoU with the Independent Electoral Commission to support and facilitate inter-party dialogue as well as monitor the code of conduct of the political stakeholders in a bid to avoid internal electoral disputes.
Mr. Esebagbon added that promotion of voter education including among others citizen engagement and peace building are a key thematic area to focus on as part of their engagement with the political stakeholders.
He deemed that the dialogue is necessary to form a “very solid” partnership “as we go into preparation for the debate. This is the culture that we want to institutionalize in The Gambia to have control of doubts by communicating to the people about your agenda as an aspirant presidential candidate and how you are willing to address the national issues of the country.”
Bakary Fatty, founder and executive director of Commission on Political Debates, said: “Debate is a very healthy process that we believe that Gambian politics can also transition to. We want a system where politicians will be happy to take part in political discussions without any hitches. We just have to normalize the process and understand that its main objective is to have dialogue and discuss the programs you [politicians] have for the electorate.”
Fatty added that the platform should be peaceful because it is where all candidates from different political parties will come together and interact in a very friendly manner.
The debate is scheduled to take place on November 20th, 2021, at the International Conference Center. The Commission on Political Debates therefore seeks partnership with the Inter-Party Committee and other key stakeholders such as the Independent Electoral Commission to expedite the full cooperation and participation of all parties in the 2021 presidential debates.