Gambians have been urged to use all legal or constitutional avenues to effect change in their country. The call is widely echoed by speakers at Sunday’s mass rally organised by the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) in Busumbala in Kombo North.
The rally, the sixth of its kind in recent months, is meant to sensitise the electorate on the country’s appalling state of affairs and the government’s inability to effectively govern. Speakers call on the Independent Electoral Commission to respond to the opposition demands for electoral reforms.
In his address, greeted with applause, the UDP leader sympathises with majority of Gambians exhausted with basic livelihood. “The average Gambian family today cannot afford the three basic meals,” Lawyer Ousainou Darboe says. The cost of living is expensive even for senior civil servants, let alone poor farmers and lower scale workers.”
Mr. Darboe sees no reason why the IEC continues to “ignore our demands for electoral reform. If the APRC can swiftly change the registration of new political parties and raise fees for potential candidates, why can’t the simple demands of the joint opposition electoral reform proposals be treated likewise.”
Darboe says the current system is designed only to favour the ruling Alliance for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction. “We have made public our frustration and resentment with the status quo, and that no pressure will make it change and accept equal and fairer electoral playing field.”
The UDP leader calls on his party’s supporters to support the proposed electoral reforms. He says only this can guarantee a peaceful, free, fair and level playing field elections in 2016.
Other speakers concur that the current situation is not sustainable. “We cannot go on like this,” a Brikama youth leader says. “The sGambia is a laughing stock. Gambians seem less conscious of their rights to allow one man to control every sphere of their lives for 21 years without freeing themselves. Any more delays in changing the current government means, more hardship, more pain and sufferings for everyone regardless of their political affiliation.”