By Abdoulie Drammeh
The Elections Watch Committee has last week confirmed that two Hundred and Fifty-one (251) approved candidates will be contesting for the Fifty-three (53) Seats in the April, 9th Parliamentary Elections.
“On Tuesday, March 15, the IEC released a list of 251 candidates that have been cleared to contest the April 9 parliamentary polls. The IEC announced that they rejected five candidates” Deputy Speaker of the National Youth Parliament, Ndegen Jobe.
Speaking to the Journalists DS Jobe noted that based on the IEC’s list of candidates, the highest number of candidates are in lower saloum in Janjanburreh and Old Yundum in Brikama with eight candidates running in each contest.
She said that in two constituencies, Bakau in Kanifing and Tumana in Basse there are only two candidates contesting adding that UDP has fielded the largest number of candidates at 46 followed by the NPP at 40 candidates. As well, 85 independent candidates are running in these elections.
“The Election Watch Committee’s parliamentary nomination and pre-campaign update provides comprehensive information on reports from the Election Watch Observers deployed across the country during the nomination process and the period prior to the start of the official campaign period from 5th March to 17th March, 2022” she said
Elections Watch Observers noted that the nomination process was disrupted in three instances, most notably in the West Coast Region when the IEC rejected the UDP candidate in Busumbala.
She stressed that the EWC condemns any violence within the electoral process and urges aggrieved aspirants to utilize the prescribed legal mechanisms to pursue their grievances while recommending that security forces to fully investigate the incident in Brikama and sanction the officers who used excessive force.
“They should ensure all officers are fully trained on proper crowd control and de-escalation tactics”
Jobe recommended that IEC and the IPC should closely monitor the actions of political parties to ensure they comply with the Code of Conduct and Code on Election Campaign Ethics, while reminding political parties to refrain from vote buying.
“The IEC should give detail reasons for the rejection of candidates’ nomination. In future elections, the IEC should allocate more time for public scrutiny of the nomination papers of aspiring candidates and ensure greater transparency throughout the process of reviewing candidate nominations” she said.
Further speaking the National Youth Parliament DS, said all the Elections Watch Observers were instructed to observe campaign activities and rallies of political parties and independent candidates in their respective areas covering the total of 53 constituencies within The Gambia.
“Elections watch Observers were asked to observe whether aspirants submitted a complete nomination package and that the IEC followed procedures in either accepting or rejecting their nominations. However, in many instances, the IEC confirmed receipt of the nomination package and later called the candidate to return to collect their acceptance of nomination. Due to this, Elections Watch Observers were not able to fully observe how the IEC reviewed these packages or if candidates were asked to make corrections to their nomination packages.” she explained
The Election Watch Committee encourages all citizens to continue to peacefully engage during the campaign. The rejected candidates are equally urged to utilize the courts to pursue their grievances. The Elections Watch Committee also reminds voters to bring their voters card and cast their votes on 09th April at the polling station where they registered.
The election watch projection seeks to facilitate a well-coordinated and organized mechanism of observation of the 2022 parliamentary election process. And thereby promoting a transparent and accountable democratic system in the Gambia.
The Elections Watch Committee is a partnership of three organizations and other network members with different expertise and background collaborating to observe electoral processes in The Gambia. The Elections Watch Committee includes the Peace Ambassadors-The Gambia (PAG), ACTIVISTA and the National Youth Parliament (NYP).