By Mustapha Jallow
Domestic election observers on Saturday urged Gambian journalists to desist from disseminating hate speech during April 9 parliamentary elections.
“The Gambia Press Union should advise its members to respect the ethics of journalism and refrain from disseminating any information that could escalate tension,” said Dr. David Daroll Tommy, Chairman NERG, said in a preliminary statement shared with reporters during their daily briefing on the election.
The observers made the call while reading findings on the April 9, 2022, parliamentary election to the press.
“The general public is encouraged to verify before sharing any information on social media platforms,” he added.
Organised by the Civic Society Organisation (CSO) Coalition on Elections in collaboration with National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and National Elections Response Group (NERG), the briefing was coordinated by the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) held at a local hotel in Kololi.
The aim of the observers is to monitor, analyse and mitigate electoral violence and contribute to a peaceful and credible election.
In view of the observations and challenges raised, observers recommend the following:
“The IEC, political parties and the general public should ensure strict compliance with COVID-19 protocols during voting to prevent an increase in cases after the election.
“The IEC and security services should uphold the principles of neutrality, impartiality and professionalism in the discharge of their duties and respect for human rights.
“Political parties and supporters are encouraged to maintain law and order to ensure that all eligible voters are able to exercise their rights.
“IEC to ensure that all internally displaced and eligible voters are able to exercise their right to vote.
“The IEC should keep frequent communication flow with the general public at all levels throughout the electoral process and political actors should observe the provisions of the Electoral Laws, the Code of Conduct of political parties and the voluntary Code of Conduct by candidates.”
The election observers also called on all stakeholders to be tolerant of the electoral process and one another.
Meanwhile, a little over 4 months following the presidential elections, Gambian citizens on Saturday, April 9, 2022, went to the polls to elect National Assembly members.
A total of 962,157 registered Gambians comprising 545,318 (57%) females and 416,839 males (43%) will elect the sixth National Assembly under the 1997 Second Republican Constitution.
Fifty-seven per cent (57%) of the registered voters are youths between 18 and 35 years. The election was held in 1554 polling stations covering 53 constituencies in seven (7) regions of The Gambia.
According to the IEC, 259 aspirants submitted nomination papers in accordance with Section 42 of the Election Act (2001).
Out of these, 251 were approved. However, 5 withdrew leaving a total of 246 to contest the election. The nominated candidates comprise 232 males, and 19 females (8%). There are 85 independent candidates including 1 differently-abled person. Out of the 18 registered political parties, 12 have presented candidates.