Baboucarr Sambou, President of PAG

By Sulayman Waan

With campaigning for the presidential election ongoing nationwide, the Election Watch Committee (EWC) of The Gambia has been sharing its findings so far.

The EWC comprises the non-governmental groups Peace Ambassador-The Gambia (PAG), ACTIVISTA and the National Youth Parliament (NYP).

The body has deployed 53 trained election observers countrywide for the ongoing political campaigns.

EWC observers also monitor the activities of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), civic education activities, and voter information campaigns.

Speaking at a news conference Friday on behalf of EWC, Baboucarr Sambou said 13 of 53 EWC constituency observers have witnessed or heard reports of candidates giving money or gifts to supporters.

“A few observers have reported hearing of instances of vote buying”.

As many as 22 of 53 constituency observers witnessed or heard reports of the use of state resources, such as government vehicles during the campaigning, he added.

Sambou said 35 of 53 constituency observers also reported that the Independent Electoral Commission, National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) and CSOs have conducted civic education and voter information campaigns directed at women, youth and differently-abled persons.

He said 18 of the 53 observers reported that they have not witnessed or heard of any voter information campaign in their area.

These include EWC observers in the Mansakonko administrative area, and more than half of observers in the Brikama Administrative area.

As for election-related violence, Sambou said they received only a few reports of such, but did not give specific information.

However, he spoke of an instance of a female supporter being threatened for supporting another political party.

Sambou, therefore, said police should be present everywhere at this crucial moment, particularly in hotspot areas, as the election fast approaches so as to ensure the maintenance of peace throughout.

“Security forces should conduct properly investigation in instances of electoral violence,” he added.

The EWC official also recommended that the IEC and the Inter Party Committee (IPC) closely monitor the activities of political parties, so that they comply with the Code of Conduct and Code on Election Campaign Ethics.

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Mr. Sainey M.K. Marenah is a Prominent Gambian journalist, founding editor The Alkamba Times and formerly head of communications at the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) and Communications and PR Consultant for The Gambia Pilot Program, under Gamworks. Mr. Marenah served as the Social media Strategist and Editor at Gambia Radio and Television Services. He is also the Banjul Correspondent for Voice of America Radio. Sainey is a human rights and developmental journalist who has carved a strong niche particularly in new media environments in the Gambian media industry. Mr. Marenah began his career as a junior reporter with the Point Newspaper in the Gambia in 2008 and rose through the ranks to become Chief correspondent before moving to The Standard Newspaper also in Banjul as Editorial Assistant and head of News. He is a household name in the Gambia’s media industry having covered some of the most important stories in the former and current government. These include the high profile treason cases including the Trial of Former military chiefs in Banjul in 2009 to 2012. Following his arrest and imprisonment by the former regime of President, Yahya Jammeh in 2014, Marenah moved to Dakar Senegal where he continues to practice Journalism freelancing for various local and international Media organization’s including the BBC, Al-Jazeera, VOA, and ZDF TV in Germany among others. He is the co-Founder of the Banjul Based Media Center for Research and Development; an institution specialized in research and development undertakings. As a journalist and Communication Expert, focused on supporting the Gambia's transitional process, Mr Marenah continues to play a pivotal role in shaping a viable media and communications platform that engages necessary tools and action to increase civic participation and awareness of the needs of transitional governance to strengthen the current move towards democratization. Mr. Marenah has traveled extensively as a professional journalist in both Europe, Africa and United States and attended several local and international media trainings.

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