The leader of Gambia’s main opposition United Democratic Party said his and five other parties plan to boycott the country’s March 29th legislative election unless the Independent Election Commission [IEC] can assure them of a level playing field. Ousainou Darboe’s comments came as other opposition leaders in The Gambia have asked the Economic Community of West African States [ECOWAS] to arbitrate the dispute ahead of the election. Darboe said the ruling Alliance for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction Party of President Yahya Jammeh is also abusing the power of incumbency in order to tilt the election results in its favor. “I have joined with other opposition parties in the country not to participate in the upcoming National Assembly election. This due is to the fact that the IEC has rejected our demand for a postponement of the election so as to enable a level playing field being created, which would allow for a free, fair and transparent election,” he said.
Darboe said a level playing field would be created if the entire government apparatus, including the Gambian military, police and civil service, are made to stay out of politics. He said, at present, there’s no distinction between the ruling party and the government of President Jammeh.
“They are using government resources. They operate from the offices of the regional governors and from the offices of the various local authorities to operate,” Darboe said. Darboe said those found to be sympathetic to opposition parties are given what he called “raw deals,” including losing their government jobs.