By Omar Bah
At least five political party leaders have signed the Inter-Party Committee peace pledge dubbed the Jangjangbureh Peace Accord.
All the eighteen registered political parties in The Gambia were represented at the meeting organised to commit their leaders to sign the peace accord. However, out of the eighteen leaders, only five were present – Citizens’ Alliance, CA – Dr Ismaila Ceesay, National Conventional Party, NCP, Lamin Dibba, All People’s Party, APP, Dr Bai Biran Jagne, Peoples’ Progressive Party, PPP, Kebba Jallow and Gambia Action Party, GAP, Musa Ousainou Yali Batchilly.
Addressing the meeting shortly before signing the Peace Accord, CA leader Dr Ceesay expressed his disappointment over the low turnout of party leaders. He said his party supports the peace accord and will adhere to it.
The leader of the NCP, Ebrima Dibba urged his fellow leaders to be committed to a peaceful election. “Peace is priceless and there cannot be development without peace,” he said.
The GAP leader, Musa Ousainou Yali Batchilly urged his fellow leaders to approach the polls peacefully and ensure they campaign responsibly based on policies and programs.
“We should stop character assassination in the country’s political discourse. We are all the same in this country – we are all interrelated. In fact, in my opinion there should not be elections in this country – we could have just come together and select one person and rally behind the person,” he said.
The APP leader, Dr Jagne and PPP leader, Kebba Jallow expressed similar pledge to the Peace Accord.
The Peace Accord commits the IPC, political party leaders and independent candidates to peaceful, inclusive, and issues-driven campaigns in the run-up to and beyond the 2021 Presidential election. The stakeholders are also committed to abide by all the rules and regulations as laid down in the legal framework for elections in The Gambia, especially the 1997 Constitution; the Elections Act 2009; the IPC MoU and Code of Conduct as well as the 2021 presidential election. The peace agreement also commits political parties to conduct themselves in such a manner that the ability of the police or other security agencies to perform their roles and duties in enforcing the law and maintaining law and order will not be hindered whatsoever whether at the polling station, constituency, regional or national levels. It will also ensure that the parties support all institutions of government involved in conducting or securing the elections – in particular the IEC and the security forces – to act with professionalism, impartiality and transparency; respect the right of all other parties to campaign freely and to disseminate political ideas and principles without fear, respect freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly and of peaceful assembly and refrain from disrupting or frustrating the legitimate activities of other political parties, including the holding of political rallies and meetings.
According to the peace accord, parties should organise and conduct all their campaign activities in a manner that contributes to a peaceful atmosphere, take a definitive stand against hate speech, misinformation or fake news (online or offline), intimidation of opponents, and other forms of electoral impunity and unfair electoral practices. It also commits all parties to accept the outcome of the votes and the results announced by IEC as long as the election is judged to be free, fair and credible, devoid of intimidation, violence and conducted in accordance with the provisions of the law.