Political party leaders, representatives of civil society and the media this week examined a draft code of conduct for candidates for the April 9 National Assembly election, produced and submitted by the group of Eminent Person and Moral Guarantors.
Organized by the national secretariat of International IDEA, the consultations were held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Center in Bijilo.
The document discussed is entitled: “Towards Peaceful National Assembly Elections in The Gambia: Code of Conduct for Candidates”.
It follows the January 2022 meetings with representatives of political parties, civil society and the media at the same venue.
On that occasion, the Eminent Person and Moral Guarantors heard from them what they observed, regarding how well the presidential candidates complied with the code they signed for their December 4 election.
This informed the drafting and contents of a new code, which is to be adopted and signed by the candidates in the National Assembly election.
In the preamble of the document circulated, they commit themselves to peaceful elections and the judicial resolution of electoral disputes; to abide by the tenets of the Constitution, the Elections Act, Inter-Party Committee (IPC) MoU and Code of conduct, the IPC Peace Pledge (Janjanbureh Peace Accord).
The signatories also commitment themselves to international standards for democratic elections; to consolidate our democracy and preserve the Gambia’s reputation as a haven of peace, stability and constitutionalism in Africa.
Furthermore, they will be mindful of Gambians’ right to free and fair elections, and of the need to place the national interest above personal and partisan considerations.
They commit themselves to peace in all political activities before, during and after the April 9 election.
The code requires that the candidates engage in issue-based political campaigning; condemn acts of intimidation, thuggery and violence; avoid the creation of vigilantes; and refrain from inciting ethnic or religious sentiments.
Also to cooperate with the IEC in the orderly scheduling of political activities; and, refrain from engaging in vote-buying and the financial inducement of voters.
Candidates also pledge to accept the results of the election as announced by the IEC; and, to resort to judicial processes to address election disputes.
The signatories also undertake to communicate the tenets of the proposed code to their followers.
They also accept to commit themselves and their political parties to monitoring of compliance with it by the national Committee of Eminent Personalities, Religious and Traditional Leaders, which serves as a monitoring mechanism.
During the consultations, it was pointed out by the convener that candidates’ compliance with the code is voluntary.
It was further observed by participants that adoption of the code contributed to peaceful and credible presidential elections; and, that the proposed code is also designed to contribute to credible legislative elections.
International IDEA, according to the invitation letter to participants, is an “international inter-governmental organisation with a mandate to promote democratic governance worldwide”.
Concerning its role, the letter further stated that International IDEA “was requested by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Gambians civil society organizations based on its global comparative expertise on inter-party dialogue and electoral processes.”
It harps on International IDEA’s “experience working to support the ongoing Gambian transition; and to conduct a dialogue as part of a consensus building process on peaceful elections among the political parties and electoral stakeholders in The Gambia.”
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