Only few a days ago, we published an editorial about the apparent absence of an important institution like the Inter-Party Committee at a time when tensions and mistrust were mushrooming between political players. Coming just a few months before the elections, Gambians all over have expressed concern that if the contentious issues are not addressed, they could spiralled into violence. We raised concern about the apparent silence of the IPC when matters under its mandate, for example, electoral problems, are cropping up everyday.
We noted IPC’s constraints of lack of funds to implement planned activities to monitor voter registration. However, three weeks into the exercise and with all the accusations and counter-accusations over alleged registration of minors and foreigners across the country and the verbal and physical assault in Kanilai, not a single word has been issued by the IPC which is expected to be the most effective platform to address differences among parties in the build-up to the December election and those coming after.
There is no surprise therefore that in their second report on the voter registration, observers of the CSO Coalition also noticed a similar situation and are calling on the IPC to be more active. The CSO Coalition’s report recommended the following:
“That the Inter-Party Committee should assume a front role on issues surrounding elections so as to serve as a guide in holding its members and supporters accountable in upholding the principles and standards of electioneering;
That the IPC must be seen to proactively and urgently intervene in any instance that seeks to cause conflicts or undermine the peaceful conduct of elections and the overall integrity of the electoral process;
That the management of the ongoing tensions over the registration exercise requires a legal framework which can facilitate the resolution of disputes throughout the electoral process;
That political parties should continue to sensitise their supporters and the general citizenry who are yet to register to do so before the end of the voter registration exercise;
And that political parties should advise their militants to refrain from spreading false information on the social media about the voter registration exercise which could undermine the integrity of the exercise and the credibility of the IEC as well as serve as a catalyst for electoral violence”.
All the above concerns expressed by the CSOs fall within the remit of the IPC. We therefore agree and renew our call for the IPC to take up its responsibility and rise up to the occassion before it is too late.