By Sarjo Camara-Singateh
The chairperson of the Inter Party Committee (IPC) Hon. Halifa Sallah has indicated that the IPC has successfully completed a nationwide sensitization.
He made this statement at the IEC hall on the 14th of September 2018 at a press conference.
The sensitisation which brought together nine registered political parties APRC, GDC, GMC, GPDP, NCP, NRP, PPP, PDOIS, and UDP that are members of IPC
Hon. Sallah said the regional sensitisation teams comprise a male and a female of each of the political parties. They were empowered through a capacity building programme initiated with the support of WANEP.
He said decision was made to transform the 18 member Inter Party Committee at the National level into a monitoring team. They were provided with monitoring kits to monitor the sensitisation at the regional level.
He noted that each team was charged with five sensitisation sessions covering 30 participants; 27 participants in each programme were selected by 9 political parties with representation of three party activists per party.
He indicated that cumulatively, 18 inter party committee members, 126 members of the sensitisation teams of the seven regions and 1050 participants in the seven regions took part in the sensitisation process.
He said Political parties have three roles: they must enhance the political awareness of our population, they must exercise their right to disseminate the programmes on political, economic, social and other policies that would enhance the development basis, and they must exercise the right to put up a candidate.
He said the inter party committee did commit themselves to conducting campaign against violence, vandalism and intimidation. They affirmed their readiness to respect full separation of powers and will not seek in any way to unduly influence the other arms of government, civil servants or public funds for partisan campaign purposes.
He said the nine parties subscribe to a code of conduct and undertake to respect the rights of all other parties to campaign freely and disseminate their political ideas and principles without fear; exercise their freedom of assembly including holding rallies and conduct their activities at all times in a manner that contributes to a congenial and peaceful atmosphere; avoid using inflammatory or defamatory language, avoid threatening or inciting disorderly conduct or violence.
Under section 60 of the constitution one may belong to any party, religion or gender but you cannot form a political party based on such. He indicated that sovereignty is deposited in every Gambian as guaranteed in section one of the constitution.
Responding to questions the chairperson of the IPC said they want to ensure that the IPC is non-patisan, noting that they will open an office. He stated that they have an open door policy and would be sharing information with the media.
He stated that they are dealing with general civic education for people to understand what they are doing to promote political participation and respect for the rule of law. He said if any political crises arises and is reported to IPC they may act to address the matter.
Mr. Claude Condor, a representative of the Ecowas Ambassador to the Gambia said this democratic consolidation is a compliance with the supplementary protocol of democracy and good governance protocol to Ecowas and also the Ecowas vision 2020.
He indicated that the efforts of IPC is a clear demonstration of cooperation and Unity of Gambians. IPC is the social clue that can bring everyone together.
Mr. Condor said after 22 years of autocratic rule that Gambians have gone through, now moving to democratic rule. He urged Gambians to jealously guard the peace, security and stability that the country is blessed with. There is symbiotic relations between democratic governance, peace, security and justice.
Hanna Jones, the Executive Director of WANEP said one of the recommendations that was made during the regional sensitisation was for all the political party leaders to come on a platform to promote inter party dialogue to sustain peace.
She acknowledged that it was a challenge for the past months but with dedication things are working well.
She stated that WANEP is committed to the cause and also they would work hard to translate the MOU of IPC and the Code of conduct into local languages to de disseminated country wide. She acknowledged the support given by the American Embassy and the International Republican Institute (IRI) for making this work possible.
Mr. Saikou Sanyang, a IPC official said the efforts made by the IPC were embraced and appreciated by every Gambian. He also commended the IPC members for speaking a progressive language.
Hon. Musa Amul Nyassi Co-Chair also commended the IPC members for the unified stand they took to protect Gambia from political violence. He suggested any partisan political conflict to be addressed by the IPC.
Mr. Sering Faye, the Executive Director of National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) said his institution should not be left out in this noble service. He indicated that should incase his institution goes on sensitization a question pertaining the IPC arises they would be left dumb. He urged the IPC to include NCCE in their activities.
Mrs. Amie Sillah a member of the IPC said they took the bull by the horn, spreading the objective and relevance of the MOU and the code of conduct. She stated that people embraced the team and hoped that everybody masters the MOU.
Agie Yam Secka another member said the IPC has started with a unified position and should not derail from that commitment and that the political leaders should follow suit. Gambian are watching them a change markers, she said political leaders should continue preaching peace.
Edi Jallow, IPC member also said IPC seeks to raise the bar of political consciousness and to empower the citizens.
Nfally Fadera a representative from the President said President Barrow always preaches social cohesion, peace and unity. He urged IPC to utilize the power of radio to reach the grassroots.
Other contributors and regional representatives includes Dam Touray, Lamin Jawara, Ousman Gaye, Tida Kejera, Fatoumata Mendy Gaye, Malick Sowe who uttered similar sentiments, stressing that ethnolinguistic sentiments have no place in politics.
Earlier on before the opening the chairperson of the IPC asked the gathering to observe a minute silence in respect of the demise of the former United Nation’s Secretary General and a senior citizen of Ghana, Kofi Atta Anan.