By Adama Tine
The Ministry of the Interior, in partnership with The Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (TANGO) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) on Thursday organized a day interface for political parties, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and the security forces.
The gathering was meant to enhance mutual understanding and improve relationships and collaboration amongst stakeholders for a peaceful electoral process.
The Chairperson of TANGO, John Charles Njie said: “facilitating this dialogue reinforces what I have always believed as a civil society organization leader; that we should engage government and work in partnership with them, so that we do not always have to be at loggerheads. There are times that we could sit around the table and do what is best for our country’’.
He expressed optimism that Gambians will have a peaceful election through such stakeholder engagements and collaborative efforts. “If we sit as Gambians and ask what we want for our country, I am sure that at the end of the dialogue, we shall all leave with a common understanding and indeed The Gambia will be the Smiling Coast once again”.
The Co-Chairperson of the Inter m-Party Committee (IPC), Musa Amul Nyassi welcomed the initiative, adding that since the formation of the IPC, they have been promoting and safeguarding their conduct for consensus building among members. He explained that even though the 18 officially registered political parties constituted 18 different opinions and 18 different approaches to national development, there has never been a time when the committee resorted to any voting conflict; and no matter how difficult the session might become they disagree to agree.
Mr Nyassi underscored the significance of political parties coming under one umbrella with Civil Society Organisations and other potential players to discuss maintenance of peace in the electoral process.
However, he stressed that the primary responsibility of coordination lies on all of them. “It all depends on how we engage, how we dialogue and how we want to nurture the peace and stability that we are yearning to continue enjoying,” he said.
The Minister of the Interior, Yankuba JN Sonko, said his Ministry found it significant to bring all stakeholders together to discuss election security and to come up with a strategy that would be all-inclusive, transparent and fair, considering the past experience of security forces, political parties and the public.
He contended that a peaceful electoral process requires collective efforts and to improve the quality of engagements among stakeholders and security operations before, during and after elections. He therefore assured them that his Ministry will ensure that adequate security is provided during and immediately after nomination; at polling stations, counting centers, political party headquarters, as well as all political rallies or campaigns, personal protection and escort services to party leaders and other security needs.