(JollofNews) – Political parties are instruments of leadership. They have to employ strategies and tactics which are dictated by times and circumstances to attain their aims and objectives.
Opposition parties have been criticised for waiting until the campaign period to go to the people. No one in the world would understand why a Caravan of few dozen political activists would be blocked from proceeding with a 10 day nationwide tour when they have even forgone the use of a public address system.
The UDP leader considers the delay in issuing a permit a denial. This is his impression even if the police hold the contrary. It is equally clear that his decision to proceed with his tour is to avoid breaking the expectation of his supporters.
The point is made. There is now an impasse. The state could have allayed the fears of the UDP leader of foul play by simply allowing the Caravan to proceed while prevailing on them to leave someone behind to meet all the terms required by the police to prepare a permit. This would have restored confidence and thus prevent any obstruction in exercising their right to move about to propagate the policies of their party.
What is essential now is to look for swift remedies which will give assurance to the UDP membership that they are free to propagate the values, Policies and programmes of the party and the candidates of their choice without fear.
Our findings during the impasse experienced by the UDP in getting a permit to celebrate its 18th anniversary revealed that some members of the party were given the impression that they cannot go about and promote the interest of their party without being subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention. This notion needs to be obliterated since it is detrimental to the very survival of the party and the very existence of a genuine multi-party system in this country.
Section 25(e) of the Constitution indicates among other things that “every person shall have the right to freedom of association including freedom to form and join associations and unions, including political parties and trade unions.”
Furthermore, Section 103A of the Elections Act states that: “Subject to the provisions of this part political parties may be established to –
(a) participate in the shaping of the political will of the people;
(b) disseminate information of political ideas and on political, economic and social programmes of national character; and
(c) sponsor candidates for public elections.”
Section 104A subsection 3 adds that,
“The number of political parties shall not be limited by law and every citizen of The Gambia shall have the right freely to choose whether or not she becomes a member of a political party and which party he or she supports.”
No political party could exercise the right enshrined in the constitution and amplified by the Elections Act unless the state provides an environment that is conducive for political parties to propagate their policies, programmes and candidates to enable the people to make a choice.
The obstacle which impedes and obstructs the exercise of rights and freedoms by the UDP to reach the electorate is the delay in the issuing of permits.
The task now is to take concerted action to ensure that the UDP gets a permit to continue its tour without any obstruction. PDOIS will contribute its quota in furthering the attainment of such an objective.
Issued By Halifa Sallah
On Behalf Of The Central Committee