News24

Gambia parties want poll delayed

2012-03-07 18:13

Banjul - Seven Gambian opposition parties called on Wednesday for parliamentary elections set for later this month to be postponed, saying abuses were tipping the balance in favour of the ruling party.

But the country's electoral commission has rejected the criticism and said the March 29 election would go ahead.

Leaders of seven opposition parties accused the ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) of having abused the system to ensure victory in the vote.

The electoral commission had failed to ensure there would be a level playing field, said a statement from the opposition.

"The greatest threat to building a genuine electoral system is the abuse of incumbency and the complete merger between party and state...," it said.

That had enabled the APRC "to exercise a monopoly over state resources and the media, and their utilisation to its political advantage", the statement added.

The electoral commission rejected the criticism, insisting in a letter that the National Assembly election would run as scheduled.

The ruling APRC currently holds 47 out of 53 seats in the assembly, which constitutes a single-chamber parliament.

The opposition United Democratic Party has only four seats, the National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD) has one, and one seat is held by an independent candidate.

Campaigning for the election is due to start on March 14.