By Gambian Correspondent – The party leader of the opposition National Reconciliation Party (NRP) Hamat NK Bah, is the latest to react to the campaign period allocated to political parties by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) for the forthcoming presidential elections, scheduled for 24th November 2011.
The IEC last month announced that it would conduct the nomination of candidates for the forthcoming presidential election on Thursday 10th November 2011, and that campaigning will commence on Saturday 12th November 2011 and end on Tuesday 22nd November 2011, covering a period of 11 days.
According to the NRP leader, who was speaking in an interview with this paper yesterday, the number of days allocated is “grossly insufficient” and “mostly unfair”.
For Hamat Bah, who will be running as a presidential candidate for the third time, the Independent Electoral Commission is in control of the public media during the official campaign period, and for the opposition to have access to this media for only 11 days, when all political parties will have access to disseminate their messages, will be grossly insufficient.
“I strongly believe that the IEC needs to revisit this campaign program, more so the nomination day, which is very likely to fall on Tobaski Day, and that has another implication,” he said, adding that his party will take up the matter with the IEC to discuss the possibility of adjusting this dates with a view to allowing the opposition also fair access to the public media.
“As you know, the ruling APRC is already using the public media and President Jammeh is already campaigning through the public media, when we the opposition are not given access to the public media”, he said.
Hamat Bah further stated that the normal campaign period is three weeks, which he added, will be fairly reasonable for a country like The Gambia.
“We should be able to cover the country within three weeks and, in three weeks, we should be able to disseminate our messages across using the public media, but eleven days is grossly insufficient. We don’t believe it will be fair because, already, the APRC is using the public media when we are not using it,” Bah added.
He stated that the NRP will take up the matter with the IEC to show them the implications, and some of the ramifications of the eleven days campaign, and of the Nomination Day that may fall on Tobaski Day.
The NRP leader went on to reiterate his earlier stance that he will not be a party to any alliance ahead of the November polls, noting that whoever wants to join his party is welcomed to do so, but he will not join any party for an alliance.
“People are becoming more desperate, and are yearning for a change. They lack jobs, they looking for food on the table, and they are now aware of the implications of not voting and the importance of voting,” he said, adding that the number of youth that came out to register so as to vote is an indication that the youth of the country are yearning for a change.
He called on his party supporters to start campaigning across the country, since they cannot have access to the state media.
Hamat Bah also told this reporter that the NRP will be challenging at the revising court, some voter registrations made during the recent general voter registration exercise.