SECURITY OFFICERS, AVOID PUBLIC DISPLAY OF LOYALTY – UN Envoy

By Saikou Suwareh Jabai

The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for West Africa and Sahel, Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, has dr-chambasstrongly enjoined security services to, at all times, avoid public display of loyalty to any political party ahead of the much-awaited presidential election slated for 1st December, 2016.

He reminded the security forces of their duty to provide security for the electoral process, including the protection of all candidates and voters.  The UN Representative urged the police and other security services to discharge their noble responsibilities in a diligent, impartial, professional and strictly apolitical manner.

Dr. Chambas stressed the primordial role of a strong, independent and professional Electoral Commission. He added: “I welcome the (IEC) Chairman’s commitment to “uphold electoral integrity” and the principles of “electoral democracy, ethical conduct, accuracy and transparency”.

He pointed out that political parties and the presidential candidates have a responsibility to defend not only the interests of their own party and supporters, but also to safeguard the unity of the whole nation.

“I urge all political parties to make use of the existing mechanisms, like the Inter-Party Committee, to engage in meaningful dialogue as a means to resolve disputes peacefully and in the spirit of cooperation. It is regrettable  that  the signing of the  Memorandum  of Understanding, defining best practices and guidelines for a peaceful and fair campaign period scheduled  for 8 November  was called off,” said Dr. Chambas, while calling for  a rescheduling  of the  signing ceremony  without further delay.

He said healthy  and strong civil society organisations  have a very important oversight  role to  play in each  society, and  especially  so, during  the  electoral  period,  in  particular   through voter education   and  electoral  observation.   He therefore called  on  the  Gambian  Civil  Society Organizations, religious  and traditional leaders, women  and youth  organizations, as well  as other  stakeholders to stay actively involved and to contribute to safeguarding the principles of an open, transparent and peaceful electoral process.

He encouraged the political parties and all electoral stakeholders to work together and to address all disagreements through peaceful means and dialogue, with a view to ensuring the conduct of inclusive, credible and peaceful election.

The UN Envoy renewed the commitment of the United Nations to accompany the people of The Gambia throughout the elections of 2016 and beyond. He finally called on all Gambians to commit individually and collectively, to working towards a successful 2016 presidential election.