Electoral campaign is taking place in The Gambia. No Coalition 2016 candidate exists. All the political parties are participating on the basis of their own tickets. Only PDOIS has entertained a cross-party primary which has not been responded to by any other party. Many comments were made expressing fear that President Barrow will exploit the meeting in Soma to promote the agenda of one political party. We have read the speech and it is clear that no single party in the country could claim to be given preference. His very words on party politics stood as follows:
“Madam Chairperson, in the new Gambia, we are determined to safeguard our freedom and democracy in a peaceful atmosphere to demonstrate that politics should not be translated to hatred, but to aspire for peace and development for our dear Motherland.
“All political engagements, in this new Gambia should be within the constitutional framework, in which the right of all citizens to freedom of expression and association are respected.
“My government will encourage tolerance between political parties in the country. The peace and stability and security of the country take precedence in order to lay a strong foundation for all citizens to enjoy their rights to freedom and democracy, to allow us to pursue our agenda for social, economic and political reforms.”
This statement conveys promise not to be dragged into any of the existing political camps. Even though the creation of his youth movement could be interpreted as an attempt to create his own political constituency, what is evident is that he is distancing himself from taking sides when it comes to existing political parties. All council candidates should therefore refrain from using his name or picture to promote their individual candidate’s picture. Any candidate who does so should be accused of misleading the voter. The IEC and the interparty committee should work together to discourage all candidates from using the president’s name or picture to promote their partisan interest.