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EWC Report Instances of Voters cards Buying & Distribution of Money During Campaigns

By Ousainou J Sawaneh (PrinCE OjeE)

Speaking to the Journalists on Monday during a press conference, the Deputy Speaker of the National Youth Parliament and Member of the Elections Watch Committee, Ndegen Jobe said EWC observers has reported Code of Conduct violations including instances of voter’s cards buying by political parties and the use of hate speech or inflammatory language during campaign rallies.

She added that the observers also reported the use of government vehicles for campaign as well as distribution of money and gift items to voters during campaigns.

‘‘In 5 of 53 constituencies, observers reported witnessing or hearing instances of buying of voter’s cards. Also in 7 of 53 constituencies, observers reported witnessing the use of government vehicles while in an additional 2 constituencies, observers reported hearing of the use of government vehicles for campaigning’’ she said

She reiterated that only in 2 constituencies, observers reported hearing of the use of hate speech or inflammatory language during campaign rallies while noting the low presence of security forces during campaign events/ rallies, which were reported in only 17 of 53 constituencies.

Speaking further on the EWC findings, Deputy Speaker Jobe said these findings are based on the 53 reports received from the EWC’s observer reports from the 53 EWC’s constituency Observers.

‘‘The Elections Watch Committee’s National Assembly campaign update provides comprehensive information on reports from Elections watch observers deployed across the country during the first half of the official campaign period from 17th to 26th March, 2022This update also includes findings from the conduct of civic and voter education on the elections, the IEC preparedness as well as COVID-19 prevention measures’’ she said.

DS Jobe said EWC observers have also reported that political parties and independent candidates nationwide have launched their campaigns.

‘‘In 52 of 53 constituencies, observers reported witnessing or hearing of at least one campaign event/rally being conducted by candidates from parties such as NPP, UDP as well as independent candidates and other parties. Observers also reported seeing the posting of flyers by parties and independent candidates’’.

She highlighted that EWC observers has reported three instance of violent actions. ‘‘EWC observers reported hearing of a group of women obstructing a campaign convoy of candidates and current Member of Parliament Hon. Amul Nyassi at Foni Kansala in the Brikama Administrative Area. In another, an observer reported witnessing a violent conflict ensuring between supporters of NPP and UDP party members which led to injuries of citizens while in the final instance, the EWC observer heard of a violent clash between supporters of NRP and an independent candidate in the Niamina Dankunku’’ she explained.

Outside of these instances, the Elections Watch Committee notes that the first half of the campaign period has been generally peaceful. The Elections Watch Committee commends the citizens and political actors of the Gambia for their continuing commitment to a peaceful election process.

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).

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