By Kebba Jeffang
The Co-Chairperson of the Inter-Party Committee Halifa Sallah, has tasked member parties to operate within the ambit of the law, in order to maintain peace and tranquillity in the Gambia.
Sallah was speaking at the Committee’s meeting on January 18, held at the offices of the Independent Electoral Commission in Kanifing. Halifa emphasized the need for parties to uphold the principles of the Code of Conduct, which is line with the Election Act and other laws of the land.
“Colleagues, political parties have to operate within the confines of the law and that fact should be known by all members. The code of conduct agreed upon by member parties is not isolated from the principles set by the law. Section 90 of Elections Act defines the obligations of the candidate and political parties during campaign, which should also bind the conduct of parties after the campaign. That is why we signed the Memorandum of Understanding. This is what the Inter-Party memorandum is all about. It is meant to reinforce the code of conduct,” he said.
Halifa who is also the National Assembly member for Serekunda, said they are working towards institutionalising the agreed MoU and Code of Conduct to standardize the operation of the Committee.
He said the content of the MoU was reviewed by all the member parties on September 12th 2017 considering the change of Government.
“We will respect freedom of expression, assembly, political demonstrations and free political activities by all parties. We will refrain from the disruption of political rallies by others and the destruction of their campaign materials. We must avoid the use of inflammatory or defamatory language in writing or word, avoid inciting violence and issue directives against all these so that our supporters will adhere to these principles,” he said.
Halifa added that as per their agreement, from henceforth, all members of the Inter-Party Committee will resort to the committee to tackle matters affecting political parties in a more effective way. He urged all political parties to stick to their obligations and operate strictly by the MoU provisions as it has been agreed upon. In terms of settling conflicts, he said the Committee has a mandate to receive complaints from political parties and provide remedies. He however said in a conflict where a political party infringes the laws of the land, the security will take up the matter.
Meanwhile, the ECOWAS Ambassador to The Gambia Vabah Gayflo, said they are continuing to monitor the political environment in the Gambia including the conduct of political parties, the citizenry and the reaction of the Government. “We are concerned with recent happenings and we have been consulting with our headquarters and we are watching. We are advised to monitor the process,” she said.
She applauded the interventions by Government and law enforcement units to accommodate the recent political fracas in Busumbala and Mankamang Kunda. “We are happy that the Inter-Party Committee has taken charge because this is the reason why it was established and we have seen that as a huge responsibility and we will like to applaud you,” she said. She encouraged the institutionalization of the MoU for the relevant actions to be taken by all stakeholders so that the dissemination of information can reached the party supporters at the grassroots level. “I want to call on our partners here that we all see how we support this process whether it will be through consultation or through giving necessary support or whether it is through engagement in mitigating the effects of whatever will be coming. Let us see how we can make sure The Gambia stays on track,” she emphasised.
Madam Gayflo informed that her office will start meeting individual political parties from next week to ensure the conflict does not go out of hand.