By: Christian Conteh
Gambia Participates a youth-led civil society organisation that focuses on enhancing transparency and accountability in the public sector has in its recent report on election observation pointed out instances of the misuse of government property to organise political rallies or candidate rallies or a political party dominating the state-owned media outfit among other anomalies.
According to the organisation during the second reporting period (March 08-14), their observers were instructed to indicate whether government vehicles had been used to organise rallies, including the transport of materials to or from a rally site or for candidates to travel and make campaign speeches, nomination or if a party is dominating the scene using the state-owned media.
It states authoritatively that positive responses indicate a violation of the electoral code and abuse of elected office.
“Nationwide, 6% of GP observers reported witnessing or hearing of such misuse of government vehicles. The reports were received from Banjul Central, Banjul North and Banjul South Constituencies. From the Greater Banjul, observers reported the use of state-owned vehicles by the NPP delegates at the nominations of Sammy Njie, Mohammed Ndow and Ousman Wada on March 10, 2022,” the report stated.
It further noted that “the Minister of Fisheries, Mr James Gomez was also seen attending the nominations, during official working hours using state-owned vehicles. Abuse of state resources was also reported in the third reporting period (March 15-21). 8% of observers witnessed the use of public resources during political campaigns, mostly state-owned vehicles.”
These incidents according to Gambia Participates were most frequent in Foni Bondali, Illiasa, Kombo South and Old Yundum.
“We observed that the constitutionally mandated meet the people tour was sometimes used by the President to campaign for his party candidates. The electoral cycle was the perfect timing for the president to use state resources to conduct what was fully supposed to be apolitical. This has created power inequalities and provided unfair political advantages to the incumbent’s party and candidates.”
The civil society outfit emphasised that the meet the people tour is a state-funded activity whose objectives were partly defeated for political propaganda thus violating section 91(b) of the Elections Act and section 222(15) of the 1997 constitution.