Thursday, May 29, 2014

The 2016 election season is now

The regime of Yaya Jammeh has refused the National Reconciliation  Party's (NRP) leader permission to conduct political meetings and consultations in over a 100 villages in the Upper River Region.

The Inspector General reasoned that because of the Women's Week celebrations and Women Empowerment Forum made it impossible to allow political meetings to take place anywhere else in the country of almost two million people because the security personnel is required to secure these two functions both located in Banjul.

This refusal is a shot across the bow of the 2016 Presidential campaign season, and a warning to the Gambian opposition of signs of things to come.  Yaya Jammeh's dictatorial regime will not relent.  We hope the opposition will take this as warning that unless a new modus operandi is adopted, 2016 will be a repeat of 2011; the opposition will be muzzled, denied campaign space and most likely leaders and supporters will end up in jail.

The opposition should not only protest the fundamental right of NRP of assembly, in spite of the fact that it has been an unreliable opposition partner, they should protest all future denial of rights of political parties to interact with the electorate in town meeting settings and to discuss their programs.

We implore the opposition to act individually and collectively to cultivate the attention and support of the international community through, and in partnership with ECOWAS, as the lead institution in the fight to restore second round voting.  50 +1 must be restored.  A comprehensive set of demands that will usher in comprehensive electoral reform must be formulated, agreed upon and submitted as opposition conditions for participating in the 2016 presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections.  The battle should start now, and not on the eve of the 2016 election season.