UDP ready to stop unlawful practice, but no plans to boycott elections

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By Tabora Bojang

The main opposition United Democratic Party UDP has said while it is ever ready to legally fight any unlawful electoral practice, it has no plans to boycott the coming local government elections.

Last week, Gambia Democratic Congress called on the opposition to consider boycotting the elections arguing that it would be ‘useless and illogical’ to participate in an election that is “predetermined by deliberate electoral malpractice machinery” citing the alleged registration of Senegalese nationals.

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Contacted to comment on this, the UDP spokesperson Almamy Taal told The Standard that his party has no intentions to pull out of the polls, adding that anytime the party believes the laws are not applied properly or there is malpractice and improper conduct on the part of any legally constituted office, it will go to the courts to seek redress.

“You can certainly boycott [elections] if you want. It is a constitutional right of any political party but as we speak, we [UDP] have no intentions to boycott any elections and whenever we see a loophole or a query that we are concerned about, we would go to the court to ensure, that legal redress that is open to all Gambians and political parties be applied. So we would encourage all our colleagues in the political arena to focus on law reforms, especially last week we gave a fitting burial to Solo Sandeng who was killed in broad daylight by the Jammeh dictatorship and the TRRC confirmed that. So I think what we need to do as political parties is to find common ground to make sure that the [draft] constitution that was rejected is brought back and we find a way to effect law reforms as soon as possible so that all these issues that are of concern to Gambians are taken care of. But we are not going to boycott,” Mr. Taal said.

However, he admitted that his party has raised concerns about the whole electoral process in the Gambia and will continue to take all the necessary legal and other remedial steps to ensure sanity in the system.

On the issue of the Senegalese MP who stirred nerves when he claimed last December that majority of people in his community in Casamance have Gambian identity cards because it is very easy to get, Taal said though the MP was not saying it to expose election malpractices in the Gambia, what he said has the unintended consequence of exposing the weakness of “our own electoral system especially around the borders. But the government not saying anything about it is one thing but I think it is now open to all of us political parties, citizens and civil society organisations. It should not be like a political football. When issues come up, we have systems in place, the judiciary is the final arbiter of what is lawful behavior or improper behaviour under the constitution so I think some of the campaign should also be directed at those options.”