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Momodou



Denmark
8025 Posts

Posted - 26 Nov 2011 :  23:10:16  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message
PRELIMINARY STATEMENT BY THE INDEPENDENT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE AND HIS UNITED FRONT BACKERS

25th NOVEMBER 2011



On Friday 25th November 2011, the Independent Electoral Commission declared the final results of the 2011 Presidential Elections. The Independent Candidate has 73.060 votes.

A meeting was scheduled after the declaration of the results to review the figures and issue a statement but the meeting had to be delayed because of the late arrival of Honourable Henry Gomez who later explained that he boarded a taxi to come to the meeting only to have the movement of the vehicle blocked by another transport with Gambia Revenue Authority inscribed on the door. Four persons came to indicate to him that he was under arrest and compelled him to join their vehicle. They refused to reveal their identity but later proposed for him to talk to their boss who also did not reveal his identity. The boss apologised and rationalised that it was a case of mistaken identity.

This incident which took place just before the meeting to determine whether or not to accept the results of 2011 Presidential Elections is rather instructive. The United Front strongly condemns this threat to the security of the leader of a member party and will approach the Inspector General of Police to provide security to both Hon Bah and Hon Gomez.
The United Front has seen the need for lessons to be drawn from the results of the elections.

The existence of the front is a reflection of the absence of the second round of voting which enables all parties to participate in the first round to check their political weight. The Front therefore strongly recommends for constitutional reform to be instituted to restore the second round of voting in presidential elections.

Another fundamental lesson is that the 11 days allocated by the IEC as campaign period has grossly disadvantaged the opposition parties after being deprived of access to the media for a period of four years prior to the
campaign period. The opposition parties do not have access to state resources. We could not thoroughly cover any constituency and could not mobilise sufficient resources within the limited time frame to conduct a proper campaign.

Secondly, the APRC has been given an edge by the support it receives from the business community and public enterprises to ensure the provision of T shirts, bill boards and other accessories that serve as campaign materials. The involvement of APRC mobilisers in community sensitisation meetings conducted by public enterprises helps to sustain the grass-roots organisations of the party. Suffice it to say that the utilization of the material resources of the state, especially vehicles and the involvement of chiefs who are heads of district tribunals, Governors and other public servants or members of the security forces do not provide a level ground for holding free and fair elections.

In this light, it is the candid view of the Independent candidate and members of the United Front that we should propose the holding of a National Conference on the electoral system so that reforms could be initiated to ensure that there is level ground to hold genuine multi party contest and free and fair elections.

A final statement will be issued after debriefing the regional coordinators.


Honourable Henry Gomez - GPDP
Hon Hamat Bah - Presidential candidate
Sidia Jatta - NADD
Halifa Sallah - PDOIS

A clear concience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone

kobo



United Kingdom
7765 Posts

Posted - 29 Nov 2011 :  15:59:28  Show Profile Send kobo a Private Message
THE DAILY NEWS;
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kobo



United Kingdom
7765 Posts

Posted - 30 Nov 2011 :  20:28:59  Show Profile Send kobo a Private Message
DAILY OBSERVER NEWS;
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kobo



United Kingdom
7765 Posts

Posted - 05 Dec 2011 :  04:52:37  Show Profile Send kobo a Private Message


"4 December 2011

1. INTRODUCTION

The Independent Candidate and the member parties of the United Front participated in the 2011 Presidential Elections as a bloc not with the expectation that a level ground exists for multi party contest in the Gambia but because of our realisation that a level political architecture for free and fair multi party contest does not exist because of the perpetuation of the notion that the AFPRC/APRC government was brought to office through coup d’état and cannot be removed by elections. The Tuesday July 19th edition of the Daily Observer Newspaper which backs the APRC quotes the president as saying: “No election, coup can remove me from power.” This is constantly amplified within the frontiers of the highest office in the land for the electorate to internalize and hold as self evident truth. In short, if there was an even foundation for multi party contest there would not have been any need for the establishment of a United Front.

This is why in its vision and mission the United Front states as follows:

“The concentration of power in the hands of the executive and the constant amendments of the constitution to erode the functioning of a genuine multiparty system, especially the second round of voting and its replacement with first past the post, thus making the opposition parties to be disadvantaged by their share numbers, make it prudent for the opposition to establish a grand alliance not to seek power for its sake or effect change for its sake but to empower the people to build a durable democracy that would enable them to condition leaders to respect and safeguard their liberties and focus on their needs and aspirations for prosperity, freedom and happiness.

The united front is designed to usher in standards of best practice in governance and democracy, consolidate a common culture of respect for fundamental rights and freedoms so as to build an unshakeable democratic foundation which could foster genuine multi party contest and thus enable the people to make their choice of parties by comparing their principles, policies, programmes and practices.

“The United Front holds that public power is not secure in any individual’s hands unless it is subjected to scrutiny and control and is restrained by just, legal or constitutional instruments, Independent and Democratic oversight institutions and an empowered population organised in civil societies like Unions and other associations that are guaranteed the fullest freedom of speech and assembly to enable them to exert the requisite influence or pressure on civil authorities to safeguard their liberty and prosperity.

“The United Front therefore is designed to bring into force a transitional government that would foster greater National Unity transcending tribe, religion, gender, place of origin, birth, disability or any other status and put in place a governance programme based on the core values of good governance and democracy characterized by transparency, accountability, popular participation, respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, the upholding of the rule of law, respect for and tolerance of political diversity and the fullest commitment to conserve, enlarge and protect freedom of information and freedom of the media.”

The fact that we are committed to a transitional programme reaffirms that a genuine multi party system does not exist and our participation in the 24 November 2011 Presidential elections is motivated by our conviction that a sufficient number of enlightened Gambians exist who will not be cowed by intimidation or inducement and are predisposed to be mobilised to serve as role models to voters who are yet to become sovereign Gambians in order to effect the democratic change most people want.

This statement from the Independent candidate and the member parties of the United Front takes cognizance of the fact that Section 26 of the constitution entitles all Gambians the right to genuine periodic elections, Presidential candidates are no exceptions.

The objective of this statement is to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the system by weighing practice during the presidential elections against the benchmarks established by law and standards of better practice, make pronouncement on the genuineness of the 2011 Presidential elections and further propose remedies if the facts on the ground so dictate.

2. NOMINATION DAY AND THE CAMPAIGN PERIOD

2.1 Arbitrariness in fixing the date for nomination and Campaign

The Independent Electoral Commission issued a public notice to fix the date for nomination of candidates as of 10th November 2011 and the date for elections as of 24th November 2011. It provided for a Campaign period lasting for eleven days.

The Inter-party Committee did pass a resolution calling on the IEC to review the campaign period which was considered by most political parties to be too short. The IEC did not engage the Inter-party committee to resolve the matter regarding the campaign period. It indicated that the dates had already been gazetted and would not be changed. They simply called for parties to continue their political activities and urged the State media to provide coverage to the political parties.

In our view, there was a flaw in law in the way the dates for nomination and elections were fixed which is also followed by wrong practice in determining a short campaign period.

2.2 The Arithmetic of the Law

Section 40 of the Elections Act does provide that elections shall be held, in no less than 10 days and no more than 30 days, after Candidates have been nominated. If this was the only legal provision then the campaign period cannot be less than 9 days or more than 29 days.

The obligations to provide photographs, representative symbol and colour by which the candidate could be identified during the voting process as stipulated in section 50 of the Elections Act makes it mandatory for the dates between the nomination of candidates and the holding of elections to be more than 20 clear days. In short, Section 50 makes it mandatory for the candidates to submit the identification package no later than the time and date set for the withdrawal of candidates. That date is statutorily fixed by section 51 of the elections Act to be four o ‘clock in the afternoon of the twentieth day before the day of elections. This means that elections must not take place in less than 20 days after nomination. This is the law.

The Independent Candidate had to devote a lot of time arranging for the identification package to reach the IEC amidst threats that if he failed to do so he would have to incur extra expenses to take it to the regions on his own.

The setting of the dates for Nomination, the Campaign period and elections were done arbitrarily without due regard to the Elections Act. In this respect standards have been trampled on. Suffice it to say that whatever falls below standard cannot be regarded as genuine in elections administration.

We therefore call on the IEC to acknowledge its error and promise to remedy the situation in the National Assembly elections.

3. COMMENCEMENT AND CLOSURE OF POLLS

3.1 Commencement of polls

Section 65 of the Elections Act makes it mandatory that “polls at a polling station shall commence at seven o’ clock….’’ Many polling agents of the United Front respected the provision and went to the polling stations before 7 am. They were informed that section 64 of the Elections Act gives them the right to examine each of the ballot boxes, check whether all the sounds from the baffle plates in each box are the same, observe the sealing of the boxes and take down the seal numbers. Many presiding officers sealed their boxes before seven before the polling agents of the Independent Candidate arrived.

3.2 Closing of Polls - Law and the Practice

Section 26 of the Constitution states that “every citizen of the Gambia of full age and capacity shall have the right, without unreasonable restrictions to vote.” Section 39 adds that “every citizen of the Gambia who is a registered voter shall be entitled to vote.” This is the law.

During the voting process the authorized agents of the Independent Candidate had difficulty in discussing with presiding officers and assistant returning officers in many areas because of the failure to formalize their roles under the law or through administrative procedures. Practice has shown that the polling agents could only handle matters at the polling stations. However they cannot handle matters outside of polling stations. Needless to say, Candidates cannot monitor what happens in all polling stations at all times. They needed authorized agents to supervise the work of polling agents. Such agents should now be given legally established roles. The Independent Candidate had appointed authorized agents to appoint polling agents and post them. Some of them had the cooperation of presiding officers, Assistant Returning Officers and Returning officers and others did not get such cooperation.

One of the key problems that has affected the results of the elections is the decision to close the polls at four when the Elections Act puts the closing period at 6pm.

Incidents occurred where people called from places like Kembujeh in Kombo Central and Bati Njol in Niamina to protest that they were waiting to vote only to be told that the polls had to close at 4 pm. Some presiding officers allowed polling to continue after 4 while others refused to go beyond four. There was no uniformity of practice among the presiding officers which is attributable to wrong directives, inadequate training or deliberate misconduct.

The law is however clear. Section 65 of the Elections Act states that “polls at a polling station shall commence at seven O’clock in the forenoon and close at six O’clock in the evening; provided that the polls may close earlier if all the voters allotted to the polling station have voted and shall not be closed if there are voters waiting to vote.” This simply means that voting could even continue after 6 pm if there are people waiting to vote. We did receive calls from supporters of the Independent candidate that they were being deprived of voting. We did call some Assistant returning officers but could not get any thing clear from them regarding what their directives were.

Some said that they allowed the security personnel to stand where the queue stopped at 4 pm and then ordered the closure of polls once the last person before the officer is allowed to cast his or her vote.

Others said that they allowed any one in the queue to vote and closed when the last the person in the queue cast his or her vote.

The Independent Candidate has been deprived of unquantifiable number of votes because of the decision to close polling stations at 4pm even though all the voters allotted to those stations had not voted.

The figures given by the IEC is that over 139,025 persons did not vote. We do not know how many of such people could have voted for the Independent Candidate. Since the law has not been complied with to the letter the flaws in the system evidently eroded the genuineness of the elections and the integrity of the results.

4. PERSONATION

4.1 Section 66 of the Elections Act makes it a requirement for every voter to present himself or herself, with his or her voting card. The presiding officer is to examine whether the name of the voter is in the register of voters and whether the voting card is authentic. There were cases where voters came with their cards only to be told that someone else had voted in their name. What is responsible for such personation?

The IEC has gone digital with the objective of putting an end to personation. Some people have been asking why computers were not available at polling stations to check fingerprints and pictures. Did such impostors utilise fraudulent voters’ cards to vote or were there lapses in proper scrutiny of voter’s card. If people could vote just because of poor scrutiny one could imagine what would happen in a station where candidates do not have polling agents.

5. ABUSE OF INCUMBENCY

A free and fair election is conceivable if the voter is free from any form of inducement or intimidation and the candidates have equal access to put their programmes before the people without any hindrance. The Incumbent has utilised the state media to perpetuate the view that the election is not about candidature but a competition between regions regarding which region would have the highest percentage of votes in order to earn recognition for development to be brought to them.

Despite the fact the IEC Chairman has gone on tour to tell Chiefs, Regional Governors and village Heads not to interfere with the electoral process so as to have a more level operational space to give rise to genuine elections no impact has been registered on that score.
The traditional rulers and regional administrators continued to use state resources to give open support to the Incumbent. They emphasised that those who fail to give support to the incumbent will not be considered in development plans after victory. The people were asked to either vote for development or for backwardness.

The state enterprises like Gamcel spared no effort in linking up with the grassroots support base of the government to organise jamborees which attracted the women and the youth leaders of the APRC in particular and the grassroots in general and mobilized them to eat, drink and be merry and sing praises to the Incumbent. Private companies also provided posters and campaign materials. The September 19 2011 edition of the Daily Observer put it as major headline: “1.5 Million Dalasis Worth of Campaign materials for President Jammeh.” This was provided by a Mauritanian businessman by the name of Ahmed El Mealy, the main dealer of El Hella brand of Chinese green tea in the country, in violation of the Constitution and the Elections Act. The business community did not hesitate to provide transports, T shirts, football gears and other campaign materials to the youth wing of the party which constantly went on tour and was given support by regional governors and district chiefs, thus giving them an air of official recognition.

The state media also served to give the impression that there were no go areas for the opposition and that the opposition was dead. Hardly did anybody see any sign of an opposition force in the state media until the date for the nomination of candidates and campaign period was set. The state media and the Daily Observer reported on major defections from the camp of the opposition, how the president lashes at the opposition and promises by the president to open retail shops for green youths. The Independent Electoral Commission was rendered completely helpless before such gross abuse of incumbency.

The United Front was more disadvantaged than all the other political forces. The state media ignored its establishment and the election of a flag bearer. On the day of Nomination the state broadcasters spent a long time speculating on the status of the Independent candidate. They gave the impression that the Independent candidate has in fact turned his back at the United Front. This created uncertainty in the minds of the electorate until the media showed the members of the United Front together with the Independent Candidate during the nomination exercise.

The restrictions imposed on the candidates to bring only 300 supporters were ignored by the camp of the Incumbent. The nomination also did not take an alphabetical order. The state media did not only cover the nomination of the incumbent but followed his convoy.

During the Campaign period, the incumbent was received by governors, Chiefs, Village heads and the entourage contained state vehicles, Military personnel and security agents putting on party emblems and tying party flags around wrists and others utilised the flag as mufflers.

Green flags and bill boards of the incumbent were put in public places. The convoys of the president accompanied by heavily armed military personnel moving with breakneck speed across villages and towns thus giving the air of supremacy of the incumbent.

When it came to voting day the same Alkalolu of villages provided food and drinks to the presiding officers and the Assistant returning officers. In Tujereng for example our agent found it very difficult to get rid of the village head because the Assistant returning officer claimed that they could not send away the person who feeds them. The distribution of polling agents numbering thousands without any state funding of political parties is to the disadvantage of inadequately financed candidates. The incumbent has sufficient resources to finance polling agents and counting agents.

Since the political parties do not receive any state funding the IEC should be given state resources to be able to feed and pay all those who take part in elections as clerks, security personnel and polling agents. This is the only way to breach the resource gap and ensure that all candidates would have a level ground to contest elections.
The worst abuse of incumbency occurred when campaign had stopped and no other opposition candidate could exercise the right to reply.

In short, Section 88 of Elections Act states that “when the election campaign for any election comes to an end all election campaign activity shall cease and the public media shall be at the disposal of the commission to publicise information on procedure for exercising the right of suffrage.”

After the end of the campaign period the radio and TV were utilised to broadcast threats from statehouse to some imaginary members of the opposition who perpetrated violence against APRC supporters. The IEC did nothing to stop such threats which gave the impression that the incumbent was going to win. The state media also broadcast the views of the incumbent while polling was on.

No effort was done to combat the impact of fraudulent registration of voters. Some members of the United Front had taken cases before the revising court to have the names of certain persons who have fraudulently registered as voters struck out of the list of voters. Those who attested to their forms had not been taken to court. It had been recommended that they be exposed and shamed before the election to save them from court action. If that was done many who registered in a fraudulent manner would not have dared to come and vote.

The participation of such fraudulent voters and their accomplices in the campaign and voting process gave added impetus to fraudulent voting and thus undermined the genuineness of the Presidential elections. In fact some of these people continued to congregate near polling stations and tell our agents that what the opposition could do is to write but that they control power and cannot be defeated. Hence they invited them to come and join them.

6. THE CONDUCT OF THE POLLS

6.1 The Dangers of Threats, Patronage and Inconveniences

The polling agents of the Independent Candidate experienced many inconveniences. They were expected to find chairs, tables, sheds and water.

Section 56 of the elections Act gives the Commission the responsibility to provide for tables, chairs, and other conveniences and ensure that sitting arrangements are properly arranged. Only the presiding officer and staff, the polling agents, authorized persons and the security personnel should be at polling stations in line with section 59 of the Elections Act.

Section 70 prohibits the display in any public place of a flag, banner or slogan or canvassing on the day of elections. The supporters of the incumbent disregarded all these provisions of the law in many places and set up machinery comprising members of parliament, prominent party supporters, Governors, Chief and Village heads to move about polling stations and even settle in some places to brew tea called Ataya. They overwhelmed our polling agents with their share numbers.

Since the area supervisors of the Independent Candidate did not receive any registration from the IEC as authorised agents they did not have any power to contain the excesses except to ask the polling agents to draw the attention of the Presiding officers to disperse the groups gathering around stations. Strong presiding officers took action by getting the security forces to disperse them while weak presiding officers capitulated to pressure. In many places the very people who assembled to assist voters to get voters cards also assembled again to witness the voting process. They exerted overwhelming influence over the voters.

In many polling stations the agents of the Independent Candidate had to move about to find sitting places, polling agents had to sit under the sun without shade at some polling stations.

It is also necessary for the IEC to explain how their officers are fed and accommodated. The heads of villages tend to have undue influence over the officers. We only hope that this is not because of the fact that they feed and accommodate the officers without the input of the IEC. It was not uncommon to find such heads sitting at polling stations and talking to voters as they passed.

Many had to be sent away when the polling agents protested with vigour. This earned them hostility and threats which in Panchang did lead to villagers being incited to arm themselves and threaten to deal with the counting agent who had to slip away to a neighbouring village in Senegal until the following morning before finding his way home. There is need for complete separation between the IEC and the influence of any traditional or regional administration.


6.2 Tampering with the boxes

Section 56 makes it a requirement that each of the ballot boxes must be prominently marked with the name and shall bear the representative symbol, colour and photograph of each candidate.

The counting agent at Sibanor recalled that ballots started arriving after 7pm at the counting centre; she said she saw two boxes without pictures attached on them and these boxes belong to the opposition parties, that is, the independent candidate and UDP. Satisfactory explanation could not be given regarding the boxes which came from Batabut Kantora.

Section 71 of the elections Act makes it a requirement for the presiding officers to seal each of the ballot boxes in use to prevent the introduction of additional ballot tokens.

After voting came to a halt at the Bwiam old Government rest house at 4 pm the ballot boxes were all sealed with the following seal code : IEC 0176306, IEC 0176307 and the mouth had a seal with the number 00176320.This is in connection with polling station 30406-2.

The sealed boxes were unsealed. When this was about to happen the polling agent called headquarters and was asked to approach the presiding officer. She proceeded to unseal the boxes. When asked she said the Assistant Returning Officer asked her to unseal the boxes. Three people were allowed to vote and the ballot boxes were again sealed with different codes: Hamat Bah: IEC 0176320, Ousainou Darboe: IEC 0176319 and Yahya Jammeh: IEC 0176318.

This confirms what could happens where candidates do not have polling agents. It lends credibility to the argument that since political parties do not receive state resources it should be part of the mandate of the IEC to provide food and responsibility allowances to all polling and counting agents to ensure the security of the votes.

6.3 Counting of the votes

Each presiding officer is required by Section 71 to write a report indicating among other things the number of ballot tokens which were given to him or her before the commencement of polling, the number of ballot tokens remaining after voting ended and the number of voters who voted.

Section 75 makes it a requirement for the returning officer to rely on the report of each presiding officer to verify whether the number of votes matches the number of voters who have voted.

The base line for doing any counting is the report provided by each presiding officer which should state the number of voters who voted. The Returning officers and counting agents should determine how they voted. Many Assistant registering officers did not announce the base figure of the number of people who voted as provided in the reports of the presiding officers, before or after counting.

Discrepancies had been noticed in Kantora, Sinchu and many other polling stations.

Section 75 also adds that “ the returning officer , his election officers and the candidates and their respective counting agents and other persons authorized by the commission , and no other person , may be present at the counting of the votes.”

The Governors, Chiefs, MPs , Party supporters of the APRC made their presence felt in the counting stations. We received complaints of their overbearing presence and interference in many places. The returning officers were powerless and could not control the intrusion of such unauthorized agents.

Furthermore, Section 74 of the Elections Act permits each candidate to appoint one person as counting agent. Our counting agents in Kombo North and South were overtaken by the decision to conduct counting in three or more rooms at a time.

Despite their protests the counting continued in their absence.
Finally, section 80 of the Elections Act makes it a requirement for the returning officer to prepare a report on the total number of votes cast, the number of valid votes, the number of invalid votes, the number of ballot tokens received and those not used, the votes obtained by each candidate, the protests of the counting agents and then seek the signature of the counting agent.

In many countries counting is done at each polling station and the results are posted on the door of each polling station for public notice. In the case of the Gambia the returning officers did not provide any copies of the results to the counting agent. The returning officers sent the results directly to the Commission for declaration.

7. THE ELECTION OBSERVERS

We have been able to interact with members of Missions sent by the UN, The Commonwealth, The ECOWAS and the European Union. We have acknowledged their concerns in determining what role they could play to nurture observance of the rule of law, respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, good governance and a democratic culture in the Gambia. We have reviewed the pre electoral and post electoral statements of the Commonwealth, The AU, The EU and ECOWAS. Despite the tone of the reports, whether couched in diplomatic language or not all corroborate the fact that inappropriate constitutional, institutional and normative practices are in place which militates against the holding of a free and fair elections. All the reports mention the enthusiasm of the people in participating in the electoral process which confirms that the Gambian people are ready to assume their responsibility to determine their destiny if both the incumbent and the opposition promote the spirit of the sovereignty of the people, abhor sectionalism of all traits and promote a sense of Nationhood and collective destiny.

They all see the need to open the media to diverse political views, separate party and state so that the public servants, army personnel, security personnel and other public servants would consider themselves to be servants of all the people without regard to any party affiliation. They have seen the need for the ruling party to accommodate the opposition as a partner in democratic governance and not as an adversary in a state of war.

8. THE INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION

The Commission focuses mainly on the registration and voting process. Outside the campaign period it has no control over the state media in promoting freedom of political expression or the law enforcement agencies in terms of promoting freedom of political assembly.

The Commission mainly relies on moral persuasion to get the Governors, Chiefs, Village Heads and members of the Law enforcement Agencies and Security forces to comply with the law and standards of best practice. However it is time for the Commission to acknowledge the abuse of incumbency before the whole world. The Commission is unable to check and control the Millions the APRC is receiving from the Business community, foreign and Gambian as well as public enterprises for party affairs. The Office of the Vice President is openly used to receive funds for the party.

The Commission has witnessed the executive accusing the opposition of receiving money from embassies and has seen GRTS staff up to the rank of the Directorate, being made to translate and transmit derogatory remarks against the opposition.

The IEC has demonstrated a traditional acknowledgement of abuse of incumbency by its Chairperson going to the state house to register the President and his family and to go and accompany the president to vote during the day of the elections.

This tendency of being soft with the abuse of incumbency and harsh with the opposition became manifesto on 19 November 2011. The IEC issued a press release threatening the Independent Candidate with disqualification without addressing any letter of complaint to the candidate for review. A reconciliatory position taken by a junior agent in the Campaign team of the Independent candidate was taken as acknowledgement of guilt and formal apology.

This tendency of the Commission to be rash with the opposition to the point of threatening disqualification while the constitution and elections laws especially on party financing are broken left, right and centre with impunity confirms that the IEC needs to be further empowered to enable it to create the climate for free and fair elections in the country.

9. THE MEDIA

Programmes initiated by Taranga Fm as well as those initiated by Malick Jones of GRTS Radio did facilitate debate among parties. The Print media did also contribute to dissemination of divergent views. DSTV also assisted in promoting divergent views in the Senegalese Media which APRC tried to use to promote its agenda. We wish to express our appreciation for all the efforts made by the GRTS Television crew to put our campaign issues on TV. There has been remarkable improvement in terms of media coverage during the Campaign period.

10. CONCLUSION

Despite the fact that the United Front had, and could have had more than 73,060 votes, we humbly submit that we made a great effort but time and resources did not permit us to earn outright victory at the Presidential elections in 2011.

In the same vein, the abuse of incumbency is so pervasive that no right thinking political figure would conceive it as legitimate to reward the incumbent by giving the election a clean bill of health.

The appropriate response to his campaign slogan that “No election, coup can remove me from power” is to say: “All is yours Mr President and don’t expect us to legitimize the abuse of incumbency by giving a clean bill of health to the elections.” On the contrary this is the time we wish to highlight with overwhelming vigour that without putting an end to such abuse of incumbency there could not be free and fair elections in the Gambia.

However we also wish to reiterate that history has shown that countries have changed from the ballot box without the ground being level for multiparty contest once the people are truly determined for change. We individually and as a United front will continue to call for electoral reform and appeal to the people to liberate themselves from the factors which induce or intimidate them to forgo their support for the opposition.

It is our candid view that the incumbent should also humbly accept that the ground is not the least level to ensure the holding of genuine elections that would give rise to the undiluted choice of the people, despite the fact that cognizable attempts have been made by the IEC to improve the system.

It is true that many factors did impede the holding of genuine presidential elections which could be classified as free and fair.

However, given the relatively peaceful way in which the campaign and polling was conducted there is ample opportunity to conduct constitutional, legal, institutional and behavioral reforms in order to build a viable electoral system. After 17 years of Governing the country the incumbent should no longer be interested in commendation.

He will be ruling the country for 22 years by the end of his next mandate. Hence, now is the time to swallow harsh criticisms in order to take stock of the shortcomings of the system and map out a way forward for the country. A National Conference to review and reform the electoral system would be an asset.

It is evident that the Constitutional Amendment that eliminated the first round of voting undermines the multiparty system. This needs to be restored to enable parties that are established to contest elections to do so and form alliances in the second round.

The Constitutional and legal provisions which restrict parties from receiving funds from corporate bodies and external sources must either be repealed or complied with by all parties. In this respect the Government should establish a commission to look into campaign financing.

The legal reform which makes it possible for attesters to determine age and citizenship and restrict the adjudicating powers of registering powers has given rise to the propagation of fraudulent registration practices. There is need for legal reform to restore the adjudicating powers of the Registering officers and ensure universal access to National ID cards.

The insecurity of tenure of Members of the Independent electoral commission and the judiciary needs to be addressed since they are vital for the conducting of elections and the adjudication of election petitions.

The failure to count votes at polling stations and the movement of ballot boxes to counting stations makes the process cumbersome and insecure.

The intensification of voter education by the IEC, the National Council for Civic Education and civil society segments should be encouraged to create an environment that would be conducive for the expression of informed choice.

Free exercise of freedom of association and free access to the media by all political parties at all times will facilitate an even democratic space to conduct multi party contest.

11 RECCOMENDATIONS

The President should make a declaration that his "No coup, elections can remove me" slogan is null and void if he wants the opposition to respect the verdict of the people through free and fair elections.
The IEC should have full regard of the letter and spirit of the elections laws, the convenience of all parties and the interest of the electorate in determining dates for nomination, elections and the campaign period.

No announcements should emanate from statehouse at the end of a campaign period, on the contrary IEC should utilise such a period to dismiss all misconceptions about the voting process and thus build the confidence of the voter.

During an election and campaign period the IEC should make maximum effort to curb the excesses of incumbency and ensure that there is equity in the exercise of rights by all candidates There is need to commit the executive to state categorically through a cabinet paper declaring commitment to good governance that no member of the commission would be removed without a tribunal being set to examine any allegation of infirmity or misconduct.

Constitutional amendments should be initiated to restore the provision providing for a second round of voting to help revitalise the multiparty system in the Gambia through appropriate campaign financing provisions. Constitutional and Electoral reform should be initiated to ensure that the Constituency boundaries commission would be established to demarcate constituencies before the next National Assembly elections.

The IEC should undertake to reform the elections laws with a view to linking registration of voters to the possession of an ID card, the restoration of the adjudicating powers of registering officers.

In the absence of any state financing of political parties the IEC should establish a financial package to provide food, transportation and allowances to all polling and counting agents irrespective of party affiliation.

Counting should from hence forth be done at polling stations and the results published and pasted at the station for public notice.

All political parties should enjoy freedom of association at all times and be accorded free access to the media at all times.

The IEC, The National Council for Civic Education and The Civil society groups should engage in voter education to free the people from any intimidation or inducement.

The Interparty Committee should be given more importance in promoting greater tolerance among political parties and help pioneer a National Conference to review the electoral system. "
Foroyaa

AND THE POINT NEWS;

RELATED TOPIC;

Edited by - kobo on 05 Dec 2011 23:08:52
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dbaldeh

USA
933 Posts

Posted - 05 Dec 2011 :  23:29:16  Show Profile  Visit dbaldeh's Homepage Send dbaldeh a Private Message
Absolutely Classic!!!! with no end in sight! Every constitutional and electoral violation and shortcomings mentioned above were well-known to all and sundry!

Baldeh,
"Be the change you want to see in the world" Ghandi
Visit http://www.gainako.com for your daily news and politics
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kobo



United Kingdom
7765 Posts

Posted - 07 Dec 2011 :  00:07:40  Show Profile Send kobo a Private Message
RELATED BANTABA TOPIC;

FOROYAA EDITORIAL;
quote:
"It is very clear from the 2011 polls that anyone who voted for Jammeh, Darboe or Bah on the basis of tribe or any sectarian considerations is just wasting his/her ballot. Such considerations are no longer decisive in determining the outcome of elections in the Gambia.

Now the battle is between money and awareness. One must either buy the people and enslave them or raise their awareness and liberate them! There is no middle road to victory.

Each Gambian should now be conscious of his or her claim to a national identity and sovereign power to demand that all the political leaders concede to build an electoral system that would enable them to choose their leaders freely and fairly."


Edited by - kobo on 07 Dec 2011 00:17:40
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