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Thursday, June 20, 2024
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POLITICAL LEADERS URGED TO RECONCILE

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By Omar Bah

The National Election Response Group (NERG)West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)election observer group has urged all political leaders to reconcile and foster unity among their supporters.

The group deployed 50 monitors to observe the recent mayoral and chairmanship election process with the aim of monitoring, analysing, and mitigating electoral violence and contributing to a peaceful and credible election.

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In its final statement on the election shared with The Standard, the group said: “As we come to the end of the 2021-2023 electoral cycle, we wish to encourage all political leaders to reconcile their differences, preach national unity and peaceful co-existence, work together for peace, progress, and prosperity, and promote tolerance, inclusivity and diversity.

We also urge all stakeholders to utilise laid-down procedures to seek redress on any electoral grievance.”

The group also urged the government to ensure minimum standards of gender representation as recommended by legislation are adhered to among IEC commissioners and senior management staff.

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The government is also advised to undertake urgent legal and institutional reforms, including the expeditious enactment of the Elections Bill 2020; to modernise the electoral system for greater efficiency, transparency, and accountability in elections and provide the National Council for Civic Education NCCE with adequate human, financial and material resources so that it can effectively deliver on its mandate.

The IEC, the group added, should be more proactive in its communication with the public by providing timely information on all phases of the electoral processes and to ensure updated information is provided on its website.

“The IEC should also ensure adequate training for its staff to provide efficient election services; in this regard IEC is encouraged to make use of technology for effective compilation and timely release of election results; provide adequate orientation to the people it recruits for election duties to avoid the incidence in Faji Kunda Bajonkoto where voting was temporarily halted for lunch break and ensure polling facilities and election information are accessible by persons with disabilities,” it added.

The NCCE, the group added, should use every available channel to continuously sensitise citizens on the importance of local elections and civic participation in the overall governance and development of The Gambia; the IEC, NCCE, and the Inter- Party Committee should continue to sensitise Gambians to know that elections are not a do or die affair and that they are only a component of democracy and NCCE should sensitise the population to understand that candidates/appointees don’t have to come from their ethnic group, party, religion, region, or constituency to serve them well.

The civil society is advised to advocate for enhanced political participation and representation of youth and women, including through affirmative action, mentorship, and training in public speaking and support persons with disabilities who are interested in participating in politics.

The group reports of sporadic violence between party supporters, voter inducement and intimidation, incitement to violence, attacks on tribal lines and hate speeches at political rallies characterised the campaign period of the elections. “We wish to urge political leaders and political parties to take firm stance against hate speech, tribalism, bigotry, political violence, and all acts that have the potential to undermine social cohesion and unity, and the integrity and peaceful conduct of elections. Furthermore, we wish to encourage political parties, candidates, and the electorates in general to always respect and adhere to the IEC code of conduct and peace pledge,” it added.

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