By: Shering Fye Chairman, National Council for Civic Education (NCCE)
In the build-up to the just concluded 4th December presidential election, there were palpable fear and apprehension that the country could descend into disarray due to the rhetoric and keen combat exhibited by the contesting candidates and their supporters both on Social Media and on the campaign trail. Generally the election was calm and peaceful, it went through a process that many on the continent will envy.
The fact that the election was billed as a litmus test for Gambia’s nascent democracy –as the first election since the ousting of a dictator – Gambians were able to pass through it unscathed, apart from few skirmishes in isolated cases, have again proved to the whole world that the Gambia is gradually being accepted in the club of democratic nations in Africa.
International election observers and their domestic counterparts including the NCCE have all given the elections a clean bill of health and expressed admirations of the transparency of the entire process and the mature manner in which Gambians cast their ballots. It is therefore safe to conclude that the whole exercise – though it produced some tense moments – was generally a spectacular success and the will of the Gambian people has been determined.
NCCE is extremely pleased with the unprecedented voter turnout of 89% in the elections. We want to thank all contenders and Gambians for the peaceful conduct of the elections and for exercising their civic right and duty. We Congratulate His Excellency President Adama Barrow for his re-election as President of the Republic of The Gambia.
We also congratulate the Independent Electoral Commission, the security services, the media, CSOs and all the institutions/organisations and individuals who in diverse ways made the election a remarkable success.
Notwithstanding, we wish to remind all aggrieved individuals to follow due process to seek redress as provided for by the Constitution to ensure that the rule of law, peace and stability prevail in the Gambia and desist from actions that are inimical to peace, as our collective desire for development can only be achieved in an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity.
We extend a special gratitude to Government and our partners especially the UNDP for supporting us in our journey to conduct an intensive civic and voter education campaign ahead of the polls across the county, to galvanise citizens to exercise their civic right of voting as well as promote peace during and after the process. This occasioned an amiable electoral process and voter turnout that is without a historical parallel.
Overall, we can give the thumps up for living up to the billing that the Gambia is the Smiling Coast of Africa and truly a bastion of peace and now democracy. We have proved once again that selecting a leader can be achieved through the ballot box without blood-letting.