By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
The Gambia Press Union (GPU) held a public dialogue at Brikama Wellingara Prayer Grounds where they spoke to the local community on Access to Information and Elections. The dialogue was coordinated in collaboration with the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) Vice-Chairperson Mr Joe Colley, the Gambia Police Force Spokesperson ASP Lamin Njie and Mr Sainey Bah of the National Human Rights Commission who made speeches and responded to the public’s queries.
Also present at the dialogue was the Governor of the West Coast Region and the Alkalou of Wellingara. The dialogue afforded citizens the opportunity to raise questions which the authorities clarified.
Police Stationed at Registration Centers
Police Spokesperson Lamin Njie explained that the Constitution gives the Police responsibility of maintaining law and order within the country at all times, including during elections. In his view to achieve this requires providing security to people participating in the elections process starting from the registration period. This is why Police Officers are stationed at Registration Centers.
ASP Njie reminded the public present that everyone participating in the Elections process should abide by the Elections Laws. He noted that the Gambia Police Force has had complaints that Political Party observers have labelled some Voters Card applicants as “non-Gambians”. Another issue is people wearing military fatigue at registration centers which is not allowed by law. He urged people to desist from this.
Encouraging citizens to be vigilant ASP Njie directed for any violence or conflict at registration centers to be reported to the nearest Police Station. Finally, he commented that the police have been accused of aligning with a certain political party but people should understand that whatever the police does is dictated by the constitution” and not by any Political Party.
Don’t Follow Blind Political Affiliation
The Governor of the West Coast Region highlighted that the gathering was inclusive because there was a significant presence of women in the crowd. He warned attendees to be careful of the influx of different narratives leading to chaos during elections time. It’s important for us to ignore blind party affiliations and make the right decisions in the interest of the country at large.
He thanked the GPU for facilitating the public dialogue and providing the opportunity to clear the doubts of the public. Speaking to the importance of the event he said that elections start with voter registration therefore ask your question to get clear answers.
Since we accuse authorities of not fulfilling their duties towards national development, elections are an opportunity to make the right decisions. The NHRC and other stakeholders are here. They are tasked with protecting your interest; therefore, this is a privilege to engage them.