By Mustapha Jallow
Gambia’s Inter-Party Committee (IPC) on Thursday inaugurated its new headquarters at Bijilo along Bertil Harding Highway.
Eighteen (18) registered political parties come together as one body with the objective to promote-peace, tranquillity, tolerance, political decency and resolve conflicts before, during and after this year’s elections.
This is an ongoing institutionalization process of the Inter-Party Committee (IPC), its new headquarters that houses the Secretariat of the IPC. The Building will be utilized for hosting all IPC meetings and related activities.
Additionally, the IPC is also expected to enhance political, economic, social progress and stability in all regions across the country. The inauguration ceremony was attended by all the political parties, NGOs, the IEC Chairman, representatives from UNDP, ECOWAS, EU and other international partners whom the committee described as an ally in these processes.
Speaking on behalf of the committee, while delivering his welcoming remarks Halifa Sallah, the Co-Chair of the IPC, who doubles as PDOIS’ secretary general, described both UNDP and ECOWAS representatives as their allies in this process, saying they are in this together and assemb led for a purpose with the most important purpose that any sovereign people would ever take charge and that he was there playing a symbolic role.
Sallah said the IEC is there to witness what the political parties have been able to achieve. He explained that the IEC is founded on two pillars ‘cooperation and dialogue.’ He went to say that it’s also founded for two fundamental purposes which are peace-building and free, fair and genuine elections.
From the very binging, according to Sallah, came to the realization that unless they institutionalize the IPC, it cannot be operational. He added they set-out their agenda by coming together to put the past behind them and focus in promoting national reconciliation as well as create an environment, where good-governance, rule of law, due-process and genuine elections could prevail in the country ‘so that we reap the benefit of peace and development.’
Sallah told partners that the IPC new building would be a place, where they would assemble for their consultations among others that would craft the type of country ‘we want to live in, a country of freedom and development, describing the event as the most important day for the IPC.
“As we move on, we have established the youth Inter-Party Committee to facilitate consultation and dialogue among others, so that ultimately they can transfer the values that we have of democracy and good-governance for them to continue and hand-over to the generations. We are also going to ultimately witness the establishment of women IPC to promote dialogue among our women – who for years have been left behind in the political process, so that they will be seen and heard, and answered too. So, that ultimately, they join us as partners in development as equals and also ready to take charge of the destiny of our homeland and carry forward as well as pass it to the future generations in peace and tranquil basics for development,’’ said IPC co-chairperson.
Alieu Momar Njai, the Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), in his short note – wished success for the IPC. He quickly went to say that they (IEC) will ensure to conduct free, fair, credible and transparent elections.
“We try ourselves in making sure that we produce the best election in the country.” He added: “Elections start with voting and you cannot vote without having a voters’ card,’’ said the IEC chief.
He advised party leaders to make sure this process of registration goes on peacefully and urged that all complaints should be addressed to the IEC team. He further promised to conduct the election in December 2021, saying that all the party agents will be invited to witness the exercise during the Election day.
During the period, Njai said: “Voting will be witnessed by your agents and signed by your agents as well. We will also make sure all parties have our programme guide, so that they can be on time and attend as well.’’
Mr. Claudo Kondor, ECOWAS political adviser, said: “This is a ….. giant step towards achieving the institutionalization and operationalization of the IPC. He added: “This is also timely as the country is preparing for the presidential election in December 2021.’’
He said the new building will not stop at bringing political parties together but it would be a meeting place to share information and experiences among themselves. He said it would also be a centre for dialogue and bringing people and organisations together.
UNDP representative and other speakers gave their statements during the inauguration of the new IPC building on 3rd June 2021.