‘IEC unwilling to conduct fair Presidential elections’

By Sanna Camara

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Mai fatty has decried that the playing field for fair race at polls for presidential elections is unevel, arguing that, “Discriminatory and exclusionary electoral and electioneering malpractices continue to be dished out against us.”

Reacting to questions on whether reasons that led to the non-participation of opposition parties in last National assembly elections have changed to clear the way for their participation in the next race, Mr fatty said: “The IEC chose to be the stumbling block to fairness and openness and in the process is now bereft of credibility. It acts more like a desk office of the ruling Party than an objective arbiter.”

He cited the “the legal competence of its Chair the consequence of which in any proper democracy, would have nullified the entire Parliamentary elections of 2012” referring to it as “the elephant in the room.To my mind, the IEC appear unwilling to conduct fair Presidential elections as demanded by the law, while the State in collusion assures the absence of unhindered electioneering processes.”

Propriety of the process is not determined on polling day

The GMC leader further argued that the results of an election cannot be truly representative of the will of the people if the processes leading towards that election were not free and fair. “The propriety of the process is not determined by what happens on polling day alone. It is what transpired politically during the years, months, weeks, days, hours and minutes preceding the actual casting of votes. It is the sanity of the political environment within which we operate that matters more than the formal process itself. This is the gravamen of the situation,” he indicated.

Mai lamented that the political environment in The Gambia has been further constricted. “The opposition confronts formidable challenges, most critical of which is the inability to sell our ideas and programs to the voters. This is due to the severe curtailment of such mundane rights to freedom of expression and association. Over the past two years, the nation witnessed an intensified form of legal persecution of opposition members that defy common sense. Legitimate private consultations conducted by limited numbers of persons involved in the political process on private premises, have become matters of criminal prosecution. A purely legal integral activity of a political assembly pursuant to lawful political activity was administratively criminalized, contrary to relevant statute and legal precedent.”

‘Our members remain exposed to political threats…’

He also described further actions as “surgical strikes” which he added, “continue to be inflicted on the opposition with the specific intent of instilling fear, destabilizing our domestic support base, arresting our growth and neutralizing our numerical political strength. GMC has been serially denied permit to hold politically rallies, and our members remain exposed to political threats. The UDP continues to reel under devastating judicial processes that would be an anathema in any proper democracy. The NRP was also denied permit to hold rallies. PDOIS operates in similar atmosphere and circumstances, and persons deemed closely associated with it face superfluous legal processes. We continue to bleed under public media embargo, while the private press self-censor, extracting relevant substance out of our dispatches. In many instances, the private press declines publishing our views or dispatches out of self-preservation.”

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