The opposition United Democratic Party has strongly condemned the action of President Barrow for constricting the country’s democratic space.
Reacting to the commission recently set up to look into local elections matters, the party’s media team described the decision of the president as a deliberate attempts of trying to stifle the rights of the citizens to freely and fairly elect their representative.
The attempt at election interference by the Barrow administration, according to the party is merely calculated to impose preferred incompetent, ethically and morally compromised choices on Gambian electorates at the local level.
“ By illegally and hastily constituting a commission of inquiry that is lacking in both ethnic and political diversity bears testament to the fact that it is nothing but a witch hunt aimed specifically at impeding the United Democratic Party candidates and their chances in the upcoming Local Government elections of 2023. It is simply an abuse of the executive discretion and inches The Gambia further away from the democracy that the citizens’ desire and the state pretends to
represent. It is an assault on democracy and let the shortlisted commission members be put on notice that they have agreed to be part of a contract aimed at further constricting the democratic space and stifle free choice,” the party alleged.
The setting up of the said commission ahead of the campaign for the Local Government Elections according to the opposition UDP is an attempt to sabotage and derail the campaign schedules of the opposition candidates particularly those of the UDP candidates who are seeking for re-election.
“For the record, the UDP holds the chairmanship of all but one of the regional administrative councils as well as the seat of Mayor for the city of Banjul which is administered differently. The period is supposed to be the busiest period for such candidates to engage in campaigning for re-election. Thus any requirement of them to appear in a political theatre masquerading as a commission that is ethnically biased and politically compromised by seating members who are openly known to be politically aligned to President Adama Barrow and his NPP party, is simply to put the opposing candidates at a disadvantage by depriving them of the valuable time required of them to campaign for re-election. The commission is further aimed at besmirching the stellar records of our candidates, whose re-election ought to be determined by the people and not the president or his political witch hunt commission,” the statement added.
This attempt by the president according to the party further marks President Barrow’s unrelenting assault on democratic gains and norms in an effort to cling on to power that he has been unable to execute effectively since he came to power.
The party therefore urged all democratic nations to condemn such assaults on democracy and further called on the ECOWAS, the United States government, the European Union and the United Kingdom and all who forged their relationships with the Gambia on the shared values of democracy to bear witness to the Gambia’s march away from such values by the executive.