As the countdown has started for Gambia’s elections, journalist
Abdoulie JOHN got the opportunity to interview New-York based human
rights lawyer Assan Martin on the elections and what lies ahead for
tiny West African nation. Please read on:
Gambians are about to choose the candidate who will preside over
the destiny over the country for the next five years. Do you think “hope” will triumph over “fear” come December 1st?
I believe that hope will only triumph over fear if the new government
of the coalition parties takes over. Already they have indicated in their transitional program that they want a new direction and a new political dispensation to restore all the democratic values and ideals
of a decent society, where Gambians can start living in dignity, peace
and harmony. Their transition will also allow basic freedoms to be
exercised by citizens without persecution or vengence against any
individual. The politics of solutions and reconciliation should be the
order of the day. But allowing the incumbent Yahya Jammeh to continue his 22-year rule of fear will be the worst scenario for another 5 years. Gambians will decide this by Thursday night…
Some voices in the Diaspora have expressed concerns over a possible
electoral hold-up by the ruling Alliance for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction (APRC) regime. If such a scenario prevails, what would you envisage for the country in the near future?
Well (Pause…) all political indications are that Gambians are eager and hungry for a regime change this time around. Also, there will be massive votes for the opposition especially in favour of Coalition 2016 led by Adama Barrow. Should the APRC refuse defeat by trying to rig or fiddle with this elections, I reiterate again that the Gambian masses “reserve” the right to protest and make sure their votes are being counted and respected. This is the caveat Gambians have for the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and the incumbent. So, let all parties allow a transparent, fair and free elections without violence. It is high time for the regime to respect the voices of Gambian voters. Otherwise the situation can lead to an ungovernable situation as the atmosphere is very precarious and fragile…
Again, we hope it will be a peaceful night of polling, where parties, including the incumbent abides by the rules and procedures. Our goal is to see a peaceful election – the one that is not marred by violence.
The IEC Chairman has made it clear that election rigging is not possible in the Gambia. Do you share his opinion? Are there any avenues for Gambians to make their voice heard if the upcoming election is rigged?
Cautiously, we heard the IEC Chairman trying to assure the Gambian people that there will be no vote rigging or fraud in the the election. Remember, the IEC is under a legal obligation to make sure fair and free elections are conducted in a “transparent manner”.
But should the votes and voices of Gambian masses not respected, the
people will find other means to express their dismay, and still
reserve their constitutional rights to demonstrate their concerns and
grievances to a rigged system. Therefore, this is the reason why the IEC, and particularly the APRC should comply and respect the voices of the Gambian people expressed through the ballot box.