By Mama A. Touray
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) last Thursday held a daylong capacity-building training for the media and civil society organizations ahead of the local government elections.
The training held at the National Nutrition Agency NaNA was organized to equip participants with relevant knowledge and skills to help them participate effectively toward the successful conduct of the 2023 Local Government Elections.
Addressing participants at the training, Alieu Mommar Njai, Chairman of the IEC said “The training is an important aspect of the electoral activities as it is aimed at engaging the Media and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to enable them effectively take on their roles and responsibilities in the electoral process.
He continued that “The media and CSOs are regarded as key partners of the IEC. They have played very positive roles in the success of previous elections, especially in the domain of information dissemination. Voter participation is greatly influenced by the quantity and quality of electoral information voters have been given access to. This makes the media a very important vehicle through which voters are allowed to make informed choices.”
Meanwhile, Chairman Njai added that Civil Society Organizations have contributed immensely in the past voter education activities and election observation. The Commission, yet again, counts on their full participation in making the LGE successful.
However, the president of the Gambia Press Union Muhammed S. Bah urged the independent electoral commission to ensure journalists are accorded the opportunity to effectively and efficiently cover the local elections without undue interference and harassment.
He, therefore, advised journalists to adhere to the IEC media election guidelines, and its code of conduct to cover the election fairly and impartially.
Alagie Cham, Executive Director of TANGO said CSOs must ensure there is an adequate regulatory framework for elections and civil participation, building up the necessary capacities of public authorities and civil society to ensure free and fair elections and effective and transparent engagement of citizens in the political decision-making process.