On Tuesday, the Senegalese High Commissioner to The Gambia Bassirou Sène, told his Senegalese compatriots based in The Gambia in no unclear terms to desist from interfering in Gambian politics. He told them, and rightly so, that Gambian elections are for Gambians and Gambians alone.
Since the opening of the electoral cycle in the lead up to what is without doubt one of the most significant elections in Gambian political history, talk of foreign influence has been ubiquitous.
There are reports and accusations that some political players are bent on mortgaging the country by unscrupulously allowing the registration of non-Gambians in order to achieve their political ambitions. Reports also indicated that some political party agents have registered minors to vote in December. Of course, the stakes are high for all the political players but the bar should never have been lowered this low bringing the credibility of the electoral process into disrepute.
Indeed, the cracks have long been on the wall that unless each and every Gambian – even non-Gambians resident in the country for that matter – up our guard and safeguard the integrity and sanctity of The Gambia’s electoral process, there will be post-election crisis.
The Gambia For All party couldn’t have captured this quagmire better in its statement last week that a messy voter registration exercise will only lead to a messy election. Following preparations that lasted over four years, the party, fittingly, noted with regret and even consternation that the voter registration has only given us upsetting long queues, broken-down registration machines, claims of ferrying in of voters from neighbouring countries, and pictures of what seem to be minors waiting in queues to be registered for voting.
The party said the greater share of the blame should be IEC’s but any political savvy individual is most likely to conclude that the blame is actually all IEC’s, owing in larger part to a poor and disorganised voter registration preparation. It is not too little too late for the electoral body to put its house in order and bring about some etiquettes and civility in the process.
When politician-cum-lawyer Assan Martin last week called on foreign elements to desist from interfering in Gambian politics and trying to influence the presidential election in December, he did so out of genuine concern.
His comments came on the heels of a so-called partnership agreement signed between the leadership of the PPP and the pro-Macky Sall ANC party of Senegal, who announced a desire to collaborate to help President Barrow win the December polls. Many Gambians, rightly, demanded the repudiation of this so-called partnership which has the potential to undermine the sovereignty of the Gambian State and the credibility of our election.
That is why it was befitting, and quite comforting when the Senegalese High Commissioner sought to douse the flames when he used a handing-over event to prevail, rather emphatically on the members of the Senegalese community in the country, to stay off Gambian elections. There is already hullaballoo, irregularities and topsy-turvy surrounding in the build-up to December.
Indeed, other African missions especially in the country, should endeavor to follow in the footsteps of the top Senegalese diplomat, Bassirou Séne by telling their citizens the gospel truth: stay off Gambian elections.
At these cross-roads, The Gambia needs more Bassirou Sénes if it is to chart a dignified and illustrious path to the promised land.
Merci beaucoup, High Commissioner Séne!