Tuesday, 26 February 2013 00:05(JollofNews) – Hamat NK Bah of the Gambia’s opposition National Reconciliation Party (NRP) has reveal his party’s intention to take part in April’s Local Government elections.
Opposition parties in the country have threatened to boycott elections in the country over what they described as the electoral commission’s failure to enhance a fair and level playing field.
The Gambia Moral Congress Party (GMC) headed by Lawyer Mai Ahmad Fatty has already made it clear that it would not be a party to a ‘brazen fraudulent process’, the goal of which is merely to legitimise a sham democracy.
However, Mr Bah said although he shares the concerns of his colleagues in the opposition about the need for free and fair elections, boycotting the elections would not help the advancement of democracy in the country.
“The NRP does not believe in boycotting elections,” he told the independent Point Newspaper. “We are constrained by resources, but we will do whatever it takes to participate and we will sponsor as many candidates as possible to contest in all the councils in country.”
Mr Bah added: “People are very much excited about the elections and we are receiving a lot of applications from different quarters throughout the country and we are impressed by that.
“Let me make it very clear that we are 100 per cent in agreement with our colleagues regarding their concerns, but our position is that when you look at the history of election boycotts in Africa, it does not help in any way in the advancement of democracy.
“We have seen what happened in Cameroon and Zimbabwe and other places in Africa but it has not led the opposition into a boycott. In Senegal, the PDS party has struggled since in the 1970s but never succeeded until in 2000, but that never led them into a boycott. In the end, they succeeded in achieving their objective.”
The NRP boss noted that the Gambia’s electoral system can only be improved when opposition parties take part in elections.
Mr Bah reminded his colleagues in the opposition that during the Jawara regime, Local Government elections were conducted by the minister for Local Government- a minister who belonged to the ruling party.
“Of course, there were a lot of complaints, but Sheriff Dibba [opposition leader at the time] had been persistent and in the end, he achieved something,” he said.
Mr Bah added: “The use of government vehicles, among other things by the ruling party to campaign should not lead us to boycott elections. We must engage the ruling party instead of allowing them get everything on the table for free.
“We are not begging the state but are only asking them to do what the laws say. Yes, it is not easy to deal with a system of this nature, but we must take them to task until we achieve our objectives.”
Written by PK Jarju
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