Monday, June 5

Intense political situation prevails in The Gambia

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Prevailing intense political situation in the run-up to local government, mayoral and chairpersonship elections marked  the end of the 2016-2023 electoral cycle in The Gambia.

A statement signed by Jainaba Johm, Vice Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission, said political party supporters were releasing WhatsApp audios and messages which incited violence, physical assault, and threats to the lives and properties of certain public figures, political leaders, and government officials.

It noted that these audios and messages constituted hate speech and a threat to a peaceful society, which the Commission strongly condemned.

“While the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia promotes and recognizes freedom of expression and speech as a fundamental human right which the Commission will always protect and safeguard, incitement to violence and uttering threats to bully and silence are illegal and go against every value we stand for as a people.

“The Commission has taken note of allegations of vote buying, voter inducement, and attacks on campaign caravans, which are a cause for concern, as these pose a threat to the peaceful conduct of free and fair elections, which are fundamental to democracy and respect for human rights.

“The Commission in this regard wishes to remind all the leaders of the various political parties as primary duty bearers in the electoral process to reiterate to their supporters that respect and protection of the fundamental right to vote and be elected, is based on the conduct of genuine elections which is core in every democratic society,” the statement said.

The statement added: “The Commission further reminds all political party leaders of their obligations as clearly stated in the IEC Code on Election Campaign Ethics, Inter-Party Committee’s Memorandum of Understanding and Code of Conduct and the Political Party Leaders Peace Accord 2021 (Janjangbureh Peace Accord).”

“All stakeholders are particularly reminded to uphold the electoral laws, conduct their elections peacefully, advance political tolerance, be law-abiding, foster national unity, and avoid conduct and behaviours which would endanger the political stability and security of The Gambia.”

“The Commission strongly reiterates that the conduct of peaceful, free, and fair elections is integral to the country’s transitional justice process and any actions or utterances that hamper this will crucially jeopardize our much-anticipated democratic consolidation.”

The Commission also called on all political party leaders to ensure that their party militants, members, and supporters conduct all political affairs by the electoral laws and guidelines.

“It is prudent that they conduct campaigns most peacefully, protect the peace and sanctity of the country, desist from and condemn all forms of hate speeches and incitement to violence and recognize the rights of everyone to participate in public affairs by the laws.