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 Some Pertinent Lessons from the LG Elections

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Momodou Posted - 22 May 2023 : 22:39:21
Some Pertinent Lessons from the LG Elections
By D A Jawo

The most hotly contested chairperson/mayoral elections this country has ever witnessed have been concluded in quite a similar pattern to the councillor elections held in mid-April.

The results have once again consigned the ruling National People’s Party (NPP) to the provinces, with the United Democratic Party (UDP) demonstrating its dominance in the most sophisticated and urbanised part of the country.
There is no doubt that President Adama Barrow and his NPP barons are pretty disappointed with the results after embarking on the most vigorous and expensive campaign ever seen in this country. We all saw how he and virtually all members of his cabinet and other political appointees, including Gambian diplomats serving abroad, joined him to traverse the length and breadth of the three administrative areas of West Coast, Kanifing Municipality and Banjul, on some occasions using state resources on the pretext of laying foundations stones for road projects.

In the process, the NPP no doubt spent millions of Dalasi trying to woo the voters, especially in those three municipalities.
Therefore, one would wonder what went wrong for the NPP, despite all the money and resources they had spent and the numerous promises President Barrow had been making in trying to woo the voters. Why has a majority of the voters in those three municipalities rejected all the sweet words and promises made to them by him? Is this a manifestation of the people’s disillusionment with the Barrow administration, or is it something much deeper than that?
Whatever the reason, however, now that the results have generally gone against the NPP in the three most essential municipalities despite all the confidence their supporters had during the campaign, the party needs to go back to the drawing board and analyse what led to their dismal failure in those areas.

While the jury is still out as to why President Barrow and his party failed in their objective to capture those three municipalities from the UDP, regardless of his throwing his whole weight behind the three NPP candidates, some people, including some NPP militants, have blamed his comportment and utterances during the campaign, some of which they said tended to infuriate some of the voters into voting against his candidates. “As an NPP supporter, sometimes I feel embarrassed by some of the comportment and utterances of the President.

As a head of state, President Barrow is not just any ordinary Gambian and as such, whatever he does or says could have some negative consequences for his government’s trajectory,” said an NPP militant on condition of anonymity.
Why would the NPP lose in virtually all the municipalities that President Barrow campaigned, despite the party no doubt spending so much money and resources? For instance, we were all witnesses to the blatant use of state resources during the campaign in the pretext of laying foundation stones for road projects, in addition to the setting up of the local government commission of inquiry, with the objective no doubt to discredit the UDP-controlled municipalities in the eyes of the voters.

Even though the NPP and the UDP won four municipalities each, a close look at the total number of votes cast for the two parties shows that the UDP had more votes than the NPP. The UDP had 209,465, while the NPP had 194,247, a difference of more than 15,000 votes. Does it mean, therefore, that if there were a presidential election today, the UDP would have won? Some NPP supporters are even now beginning to question whether their continuous alliance with such parties as the depleted APRC is not a curse rather than a blessing for them.

There is no doubt that many people were not quite amused by some of the utterances made by President Barrow and some members of his campaign entourage, mainly directed at his political opponents. Rather than focus on the issues at stake, most of the NPP campaign messages were not complementary to their opponents, together with the blatant use of state resources, including the public media, at the expense of the opposition. Therefore, to many people, there is hardly much difference between President Barrow’s campaign tactics from those of former dictator Yahya Jammeh, such as the use of state resources and the public media to criticise his opponents while denying them access to such facilities.

This is precisely one of the reasons why Gambians fought hard to get rid of the Jammeh regime, and this is no doubt the message they seem to be sending to the Barrow administration; they are not ready to allow such dictatorial tendencies to resurface in this country again.

Another loud and clear message from the voters in those areas was for the government and the councils to work together for the country's development rather than continue their belligerent attitudes. However, it is believed that one of the apparent reasons why the people voted back the mayors of Banjul and Kanifing is because they see them as the victims of the central government's heavy-handedness and political persecution. Rather than empower the municipalities to carry out their mandate, there is an apparent attempt by the central government to impede their work, which is certainly not in the interest of anyone.

Let us, therefore, hope that with the results of the elections, it has now dawned on the central government and all other stakeholders that there is a need for the two arms of government to work together in harmony to achieve their development aspirations.

It is, therefore, time that President Barrow and his administration stopped their open hostility towards the mayors of Banjul and KM and accepted that they are the choice of a majority of the people of those two municipalities. As such therefore, no one should try to place any obstacles in their way of carrying out their mandate to the people of their municipalities.

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Article contributed by D. A JAWO, A Veteran Journalist and former Minister of Communication 22/05/2023!
Source: Open Gambia Platform
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Momodou Posted - 23 May 2023 : 15:32:56
May 23, 2023

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.

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.

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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