The United Nations has called for inclusive, credible and peaceful presidential elections in The Gambia. The people of the small nation that rely heavily on tourism and peanut export for foreign exchange will be exercising their right to vote in December with incumbent President Jammeh facing two new challengers.
The UN’s West Africa Envoy, Mohammed Ibn Chambas was in Banjul holding talks with political leaders and civil society organizations ahead of the critical polls, after the country witnessed a stream of pre-electoral violence with security forces clamping down on opposition protesters in April and May.
ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has asked her team to assess the situation in her native Gambia after reports that security forces used excessive force to disrupt protests and tortured one detainee to death – fired live rounds in the crowd beating and kicking protesters, and fired teargas on them.
The Gambia is one of the three African nations that have made known its plans to withdraw from the Rome Statute accusing the court of racially biased and persecuting Africans.
Mr. Chambas urged political parties to safeguard the interest of The Gambia and used dialogue to resolve disputes. The Gambia has an inter-party committee for settling political differences.
“Political parties and the Presidential candidates have a responsibility to defend not only the interest of their own party and supporters, but also to safeguard the unity of the whole nation. I urge all political parties to make use of the existing mechanism, like the Inter-Party Committee, to engage in meaningful dialogue as a means to resolve dispute peacefully and in the spirit of cooperation,” said the envoy.
The UN has condemned The Gambian leader’s inflammatory remarks threatening genocide towards the country’s largest ethnic group, the Mandingoes and the Jammeh administration has refused UN Human Rights Commission’s request for a fact-finding mission after reports that opposition detainees are being denied urgent medical care.