As the race to the December 4th presidential election gains momentum, the six candidates Thursday signed a code of conduct.
“By the agreement, the six political parties have agreed to ensure the safety of electoral officials from any form of threats, abuse and violence; to cooperate with IEC and law enforcement institutions; to act professionally in investigating electoral disputes, whether at the polling station or communities, among others; to accept the results of the election as announced by the IEC; and, also to refrain supporters from violence in the aftermath of the election, They also agree to resort to the judicial process to address disputes which may arise from the election.”
The leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP), Ousainou Darboe, Independent candidate Essa Mbye Faal, Abdoulie Jammeh of the National Unity Party signed the code of conduct on behalf of their respective parties.
The minister of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment, Seedy Keita, signed the code on behalf of the National People’s Party (NPP) candidate, Adama Barrow.
One Amadou Kah, 2nd National Party Leader, signed the code on behalf of the Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC).
Halifa Sallah, candidate of the People’s Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS), was not present at the signing ceremony, but reportedly had also signed the agreement earlier on Thursday.
The signing ceremony was held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre in Bijilo.
Among those who attended and witnessed the event was Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, former UN envoy for West Africa and the Sahel, the Chairman of the IEC, members of the diplomatic corps, Gambian religious leaders and representatives of other national stakeholders.
A former National Assembly speaker, Hon. Elizabeth Renner, also attended as moderator, and read the code of conduct that was signed at the ceremony.
She said: “The code of conduct is not something that is coming from abroad, but is something that is homegrown and belongs to all Gambians.
“Therefore, even though the candidates are going to sign, I believe every Gambian is a custodian of this code of conduct.
“Every Gambian has the responsibility in ensuring that the country is peaceful. With peaceful elections, we will definitely have a peaceful result, and a peaceful country which we can develop.”
She read the Preamble to the agreement, which states as follows:
“We the candidates to the December 4th, 2021 presidential election of The Gambia, having been duly certified by the IEC to contest in the election, met at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre on this 11th day of November 2021.
“This was at the instance of Gambian population, in order to secure peaceful elections and the judicial resolution of any electoral disputes.
“We express our appreciation to the ECOWAS, AU, UN, UK, EU and other partners and International IDEA for their support to this process.
“We reaffirm our commitment to the tenets of the Constitution of The Gambia, the Elections Act, the Inter-Party MoU and Code of Conduct.
“Also, our commitment to take all appropriate measures to consolidate our democracy, and to preserve the Gambia’s well-deserved reputation as a haven of peace, stability and constitutionalism in the African continent.
“And, renew our deep commitment to peace in all our political activities before, during and after the election.
“We hereby declare to publicly condemn violence, intimidation during the election process, and to refrain from and condemn the use of religious, sectarian, ethnic and tribal politics in campaigning.
According to the moderator, the political parties also agreed to refrain from making any statements that have the potential of stoking ethnic, tribal and religious sentiments, and which could affect the election process.
Also, the code provides for the parties to strongly condemn all political violence, “whether perpetrated by ourselves, our supporters or our opponents”; and to cooperate with the IEC and other political parties in ensuring the orderly rescheduling of political activities, in order to avoid political clashes during rallies or other activities at villages or towns throughout The Gambia.
Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas in his statement said: “The signing of the code of conduct by the candidates is historic. This is the first time in the history of the country. This year’s election is unique for the fact that it is taking place in a new democratic space.”
Chambas was the UN envoy for West Africa and the Sahel at the time of the 2016 presidential election when the incumbent, Yahya Jammeh, lost to Adama Barrow, the flag-bearer of the Coalition of opposition parties.
He worked with ECOWAS and the AU mediators, who negotiated Jammeh’s exit and a peaceful transfer of power, during the transition and impasse in January 2017.