Political party representatives made the recommendation during a week-long nationwide post-Local Government Elections orientation on electoral laws, processes and maintenance of peace.
The event was organised by the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) with funding from UNDP.
The activity was designed to enhance the understanding of political parties regarding electoral laws and processes, as well as promote peaceful and inclusive democratic practises. The theme for the orientation was: ‘Awareness of electoral laws and processes is key to meaningful and peaceful electoral participation’.
The orientation sessions were conducted in six days across the country, involving nearly 300 representatives from various political parties, youth and women leaders as well as Civil Society Organisations.
The discussions and recommendations put forward aimed to ensure the sustainability of peaceful democratic dispensation and pave the way for more inclusive, transparent, and participatory elections in the future.
Participants shared experiences and opinions on how to improve the current system to have improved elections in the future that will continue to put The Gambia on the global spotlight for its credibility and efficacy.
The Gambia’s electoral cycle is spread across three years with citizens having to vote in presidential, National Assembly, Councillorship and Mayoral/Chairpersonship seperately.
An overwhelming number of participants called for the ammendment of electoral laws to ensure all elections are held within a year. “How can the country develop when we spend three of the five years politicking and campaigning” they questioned.
It was recommended that the presidential and National Assembly elections be joined, and the Mayoral/Chairpersons and Councillorship elections be joined to minimise the cost.
The meeting described The Gambia’s electoral cycle as too long and should be compressed to allow more time for development. “We must be ready to advance as a nation.”