By Kebba Jeffang
President Adama Barrow on Tuesday, March 07, presided over the signing ceremony of Memorandum of
Understanding (MoU) among political parties in the Gambia registered with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), held at Kairaba Beach Hotel.
The parties that signed the MoU included NCP, NRP, UDP, PDOIS, APRC, GDC, GPDP, and PPP.
Mr. Halifa Sallah, who chaired the ceremony said they gathered to complete a process which was started because of the desire to transform the inter-party committee into an epic institution that will refine and entrench a democratic process. “We are here to sign a Memorandum of Understanding which we prepared in common.”
Mr. Mommar Njie, Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said the most important stakeholders of the IEC in the political process are the political parties. He said how the political parties conduct themselves on the ground would determine to a large extent the quality of elections we could deliver.
“The IEC witnesses the lengthy and heated debate which at times gave the impression that consensus would be impossible. However, the document before you is a by-product of consensus building in good faith, in the public interest for the current political parties currently numbering 9. This is why all the parties here are represented at the highest level to sign the document,” he said.
He said the registered political parties present concurred that the inter-party committee needed to be revitalized and structured. He said they took charge of their own affairs by refilling the outdated memorandum and preparing their own draft memorandum of understanding for discussion.
“They have agreed as registered political parties of the Gambia that peaceful and stable political environment underpinned by a transparent, plural and democratic political dispensation is vital for the Gambia’s future political prosperity, happiness and well being of its people. They have also agreed to recognize the legitimacy of the government and its right to govern within the confinement of the Constitution and other laws of the land on one hand and the right of the political opposition to operate freely and hold government to account on the other,” he said.
IEC Chair: “They have agreed to put the past behind and in the high interest of the Gambia to work constructively towards national reconciliation and the consolidation of democracy, good governance, due process, respect for fundamental rights and rule of law in the Gambia,” he said.
He said to achieve this goal, they have agreed to a Code of Conduct to adhere to the Constitution and the election laws, respect the right of all parties to campaign freely without fear and respect for freedom of press, speech, assembly, peaceful demonstration as provided for by the Constitution and the laws of the country. He said they have also agreed to avoid using defamatory language and to campaign against violence and intimidation and respect the separation of powers, refrain from using the arms of government, civil servants or public funds for partisan campaign purposes.
Mr. Adama Barrow, President of the Gambia who presided over the event said the memorandum of understanding of all political parties registered with the IEC is a by-product of their common desire to create a peaceful and stable political environment. He said without this, the happiness and wellbeing of Gambians will be compromised.
“The MoU aims to give dignity and respect to the Office of the President and that of the political opposition and encourage them to become partners in national construction and development. The MoU encourages the government and political parties to operate within the confines of the Constitution and other laws of the land. It promotes the rights of political parties especially the opposition to operate freely and hold the government to account,” he said.
The President noted that the key of the MoU is to encourage dialogue and cooperation among political parties and foster compliance with a code of conduct that restricts them from using abusive language, violence, intimidation and use of powers for wrong political purpose.