By Nelson Manneh
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on Wednesday 1st February 2023, engaged political parties and police officers ahead of the 2023 Local Government Elections. The Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission Alieu Momarr Njai, said the engagement will help to better equip key stakeholders with the relevant skills, knowledge and information that would enable them effectively participate in the 2023 Local Government elections.
“The 2023 Local Government Election is slated for 15th April and 20th May 2023. As in 2018, the 2023 Local Government Elections will be held on two separate dates. The election of Councilors will be held on Saturday 15th April 2023 and the election of Mayors / Chairpersons will be held on Saturday 20th May, 2023,” Chairperson Njie said. The IEC Chairperson said these elections will avail Gambians the opportunity to elect 120 Ward Councilors, 6 Area Council Chairpersons and 2 Mayors / Mayoress.
“I am sure most of you have participated in previous elections and as you may be aware, election is a complex process that requires the participation of a multitude of players with a series of activities, and security plays a crucial role in the electoral process. Security is indispensable in the electoral process,” he said.
Mr Njai said without adequate security, elections cannot be conducted in a free, fair and transparent manner. In general, security is vital at all stages and activities of the electoral process, and it does not only apply to ensuring the safety and protection of lives and property, but to the entire electoral process. This includes protection of voters and the general public including all stakeholders in the electoral process such as candidates, election officials, election observers, media personnel, etc.
Furthermore, the IEC Chairperson said security of the electoral process entails safeguarding the various activities of the electoral process such as nominations, political campaign, polling process, counting process and declaration of results. He said the police have an enormous task in the electoral process, and they are charged with the difficult role of maintaining law and order, and safeguarding life and property. He said this noble task also includes supporting the electoral process which is the basis of state authority and governance, and the Local Government Elections are held in consonance with the Constitution, Local Government Act, and other laws.
Similarly, he said political parties play a crucial role in the electoral process, and are expected to fully assume their moral and political responsibilities in advancing the goal of democratic governance through respect for the rule of law, tolerance and peaceful co-existence.
Alieu Momarr Njai said political parties have a key role in helping towards the conduct of free, fair and transparent elections, and expresses the Commission’s profound gratitude to all the participating parties in this national endeavour. He said local government and all other popular elections constitute a key pillar in promoting and building grass roots democracy.
Chairperson Njai concludes that stakeholders in the Electoral Commission are committed to promoting and conducting free and fair elections based on democratic principles and practices.