UDP/NRP to Contest Local Govt. Elections

Friday, December 28, 2007

The United Democratic Party (UDP) and National Reconciliation Party (NRP) have indicated their willingness to take part in the January 24 Local Government elections.

This was revealed by Mr. Ousainou Darboe, the UDP/NRP alliance leader on Monday, December 24th, exactly a month to the elections, at a press briefing convened at UDP bureau in Banjul.

Mr. Darboe revealed that they have already identified mayoral candidates for both Banjul City Council and the Kanifing Municipality, as well as councilors in almost all parts of the country, except the Fonis where he said that they could not have people to contest on an opposition ticket. He added that if they could get any body, they would surely put up candidates there.

Meanwhile the UDP/NRP alliance have embarked upon a lawsuit at the Supreme Court, the highest court in the country, challenging the authority and the constitutionality of the Local Government Amendment Act, which was earlier amended to empower the President to dissolve councils and remove councilors or mayors.

The two-party alliance also challenged the constitutionality of the amendment to the constitution of the country that allows elections of only Mayors for Banjul and Kanifing municipalities.

“The UDP and NRP feel that that provision is discriminatory against voters outside the Greater Banjul Area”, he said, adding: “You cannot have councils operating at two levels, one with mayors that are elected by universal adult suffrage and one that is with chairmen that are selected by councilors”.

Mr. Darboe also indicated that besides their challenging of the constitutionality of this legislation, they have also filed a motion in court seeking for an injunction to halt the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) from conducting the elections on December 24th until issues are determined. The said matter is due to be mentioned in court today, Thursday, 27th December 2007.

According to Mr. Ousainou Darboe, the constitution that was presented to the Gambian people had been ratified and the provisions were accepted as the cornerstone of the regulations that would govern the day-to-day administration of the country.

“There is no doubt that the provisions in that constitution, which allow for democratization, allow decentralization of authority and also empower the people to have a say not only in elections, but also management of the affairs of this country”.

According to Mr. Darboe, section 197 of the constitution particularly provides for election of autonomous Local Government Authorities, noting that the said section is an entrenched provision. He added that section 194 also provides for direct election of Mayors and Chairmen of councils by universal adult suffrage.

Author: By Abba A.S. Gibba & Yai Dibba
Source: The Point