By MUHAMMED S. BAH
A delegation from the newly formed Pro Gambia Association, continuing their visits to political parties as part of their efforts in promoting the holding of free, fair and peaceful elections in The Gambia, met with Halifa Sallah, the Presidential Candidate of the People Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) and other Central Committee members at the party’s headquarters in Churchill Town on Thursday, 15 September 2016.
Explaining their mission, Mr. Momodou Bah, the President of the Pro Gambia Association, after thanking the PDOIS Flag bearer and Central Committee members for the warm welcome, elaborated on their origin, mission, aims and objectives.
“This is part of our activities in meeting with the political parties as key stakeholders in the electoral processes in the Gambia,” he said.
Mr. Bah said their association’s short term goal is to actively take part in the upcoming presidential elections to ensure that there are non-violent elections in the Gambia.
The Pro Gambia Association President said they have written to all political parties and that the UDP has already been met and now it is PDOIS, adding that other stakeholders will also be visited, including the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
Mr. Bah said as a young organisation, they are in the learning process and promised that they will pay heed to the advice given by Mr. Sallah
For his part, James F. Mendy, responsible of information at Pro Gambia Association, elaborated on the activities they plan to undertake, including sensitization on civic matters on both the radio and television.
Halifa Sallah, the PDOIS Flag bearer, highlighted the importance of the role that civil society organisations can play in the country’s electoral process.
Mr. Sallah applauded the initiative of this civil society organisation in meeting the political parties as a good starting point.
“The starting point is what you have done now, to be able to meet the stakeholders with openness and build up trust between you and them, and this point will help in overcoming all challenges that you will be facing, because you must know who you are dealing with,” advised the PDOIS Flagbearer.
He further told them that the association should know who they are dealing with and which, he added, will help them to know what those people’s problems are.
He said it is important to understand, “as we talk to people, we begin to discuss each way of thinking, and discover the social beings we are relating to that asked us to give us the reality that we tend to address”.
“So it means that when talking to people, you should know everything to say, respect their opinion, don’t pass judgement on them, or go and reveal whatever they told you,” he further advised.
Mr. Sallah said the association should promote peace amongst themselves, by not allowing their religion, or ethnic backgrounds to become a hindrance of peace amongst themselves before they can be able to promote peace to other people.
He also gave a history of the Gambia, since 1989, to the days of independence as well as the first and second republics.
The PDOIS Flag bearer added that the Gambia, from the first to the second republics, has never been changed through a democratic system where people decided but rather it was changed through the barrel of the gun.
Mr. Sallah further advised the organisation to strengthen their partnership with other key relevant stakeholders, such as the IEC and other civil society organisations, to work with them in achieving their goals.
He also emphasised on the need for the association to decentralise their partnership across the country.
Mr. Sallah further assured his partnership with the association towards the attainment of free, fair and peaceful 2016 presidential election.
For her part, Mrs. Amie Sillah Sarr, a member of the PDOIS Central Committee who is also responsible for the Women and Children’s Affairs Bureau, underscored the importance of the participation of young people in the electoral processes.
She said young people constitute the majority of the population and therefore should actively participate in the political process in contributing positively to the development of their country.
Mrs. Sillah Sarr also advised the organisation to work towards eradicating gender, ethnicity and religious stereotypes which, she said, are fetters that retard the positive development of the country.