Thursday, July 29, 2021

Is The Multi Party System In Danger?

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Gambia emerging from the colonial era was a full-fledged multi party system with the possibility of different political parties coming to the office of the Head of state through the ballot box.

The political leaders discouraged the people from maintaining their political support for different political parties by adopting what has entered the political lexicon as “cross carpeting. “

In short, the ruling party was able to induce those who won under opposition ticket to abandon their parties and take their seats to the ruling party without having to resign and stand for by elections.

This literally killed the opposition parties in the country and the electoral system as people lost confidence in voting as this was of no use.

Hence young people relied more on militancy to bring about change than on electoral contest.  This is what gave rise to the 1980 skirmishes, the 1981 insurgency and the 1994 coup.

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In order to prevent the ills of the past which destroyed the faith of the people in multi party contest, the Constitutional Review Commission in 1995 crafted Section 91 Subsection 1 (d). The provision, before its amendment by the current National Assembly members, used to read as follows:

  “(1)   A member of the National Assembly shall vacate his or of her seat in the National Assembly-

(d)  if he or she ceases to be a member of the political party of which he or she was a member at the time of his or her election;”

This provision prevented members of the National Assembly from “cross carpeting” from one party to another. However, it was subjected to abuse by party leaders who dismissed members of the National Assembly from their parties and made them to vacate their seats. This was considered to undermine the independence of National Assembly members.

Hence it was removed by the current National Assembly members.  It is only fair that if such members no longer have faith in their parties, they should resign and stand for by election under another party ticket.

To cross carpet to another party after being elected under the ticket of a party, is to say the least, immoral and an affront to the principles of integrity, democracy and good governance.

All national assembly members are urged not to fall for such temptation.

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