July 3, 2023
H. E. Umaro Sissoco Embalo

In the wake of opposition political parties challenging electoral results in the West African sub-region, the only female from the Gambia to the Community Parliament is challenging the bloc’s member states to work toward acceptable election results by all political parties.

According to her there is the urgent need to work together to ensure elections in the sub-region are transparent, free, and fair.

She recounted in her own home Country, the Gambia, in 2021 where the opposition challenged the results of the election, but obviously the judges are appointed by the ruling governments, so when you say those challenging the election results will go to the court, “how credible will they be?”

She also questioned Judicial and Executive independence in the sub-region, and wondered if what happened in Kenya where the result was overturned could be possible in the sub-region. “We saw in Kenya how the result was over turned, do we hope that will happen in West Africa?, I doubt it”.

In addition she gave example of the opposition in Nigeria going to court. “What is going to come out of it? I am not saying the elections were not credible I was there as an observer and I will say they were free and fair from what I observed”.

As someone who has experience in election observation in the sub-region and beyond, she noted that she was not in Sierra Leone for their just ended general elections “but from what we are seeing from afar I will not say there were irregularities, because I have not been there during the elections, I have not seen it, but there are claims especially by the EU observation report which clearly stated that the elections were not transparent and was not done properly.

We need to look at all those things as a region if we want to move our region forward”, she noted.

And further noted that as a people we should try to accept the fact that not everybody will be on the same side, we should have a strong opposition, we should have a credible opposition for people to have trust in politicians.

Additionally, she believes the Community Court is the most credible ECOWAS institution and she gives them all the respect because of their professionalism. They have shown in one or two many examples, in the wake of citizens not having trust in the judiciary of member states with election petitions.

For example in my Country Gambia they have given judgment against our government and payment should be made by government to citizens; they are strong institution and should be given the mandate.

“If we take these challenges to our local courts I do not think anything will come out of it, I am not saying they are not credible, but if there is a doubt the people should be given a right to challenge freely and fairly”.

Madam Fatoumatta Njai further noted that as Community MPs they should ensure that each and every MP is seen as equal, that when they take decisions as colleagues but what she has observed at the ECOWAS may be its normal in every Parliament there is hierarchy, we have the Bureau they should be the head of the institution of the Parliament.
“I have seen MPs behaving as if they are first among equals, which I believe is not correct, that is why sometimes people feel relaxed and they do not want to attend sessions and do not want to contribute; that should not be the case in Parliament from my perspective”.

Touching on her take on the inability of Sierra Leon to present its Country report a the First Ordinary Session in Abuja- Nigeria, she said Sierra Leone has just come out of elections and the re-election of their president and “I would want to congratulate the Speaker Rt. Hon Tunis having contributed his part to ensure that the President of his Country was re-elected and for their parliamentary victory because she had just seen the results of their parliamentary election which was released on Saturday, July 1, 2023 in which they came with 88 seats and the opposition with 54 seats; so obviously they have come out with majority and I am not sure if its absolute majority”.

And not forgetting our other colleague Baah who was also the running mate of the opposition, so election is either you win a seat or you lose it; but it does not mean your dignity is lost. What they should focus on is working together.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com