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.