By Omar Bah
Right 2 Know Coalition-Gambia, a civil society group claiming to represent over 4,000 members, has written to the electoral commission asking it to suspend the NPP for failing to hold a congress.
In a letter addressed to the IEC chairman and shared with The Standard last evening, the group which consists of human rights activists wrote: “The R2K Coalition-Gambia wishes to enquire from the IEC as to why it has turned a blind eye to a clear violation of the Elections Amendment Act, by the NPP. The NPP was registered and established as a bona fide political party on 31 December 2019, under your hand and stamp of approval.
“The NPP has never held a congress. We raised this in our letter of 29th October and were told that the regulations stipulate that it must be within two years and that the NPP was less than two years old. Unsavoury things were said about us in your half-hearted rebuttal, and the same distasteful response also came from the minister of information, Ebrima Sillah, and another NPP lackey. Both statements were insulting but not surprising. The NPP has now surpassed that 24-month mark, yet still has not held a congress. This gross infraction of the Elections Act is a continuing violation, as the IEC has allowed the illegality to endure unabated,” it said.
The IEC, the group added, knew that the NPP did not hold a congress yet it went ahead and accepted the party’s nominations of candidates for the National Assembly elections.
“These are the same laws the IEC has used to penalise less powerful and much smaller parties in the past. However, when it comes to bigger parties, particularly those belonging to the incumbent, the application of the rules is very different. Your motto of fair play, integrity and transparency, (which is oddly no longer prominently embossed on your webpage) seems to have faded away in presentation, practice and policy,” R2K added.
The group called on the commission to immediately suspend the NPP for at least six months (as was applied to other parties for the same infraction) for violating the Elections Amendment Act; declare all approved applications of NPP candidates for the 2022 National Assembly elections null and void; and inform the NPP that it must cease all political activities until it holds a congress according to the Elections Amendment Act, and the suspension is lifted.
“Failure to do so will grossly undermine the credibility of the institution of the elections regulator and will further instil the lingering doubts in the minds of the public, and the electorate on the credibility of the April National Assembly polls. The Sixth Assembly’s credibility, and legitimacy will forever be stained if the IEC refuses to abide by the laws of the land,” the group added.