Op-ed: Let’s stop character assassination and focus on issues!
In entrenched democracies, the electorate make their minds and make informed choices based on the issues each party champions and campaigns on, ahead of elections. For instance, while Party X might choose to campaign on fighting corruption, Party Y focuses on foreign policy, and Party Z promises to introduce reforms to the healthcare system or overhaul the agriculture sector, with a view to accentuating their priorities and articulating what makes each one different from the other.
The electorate choose the candidate of their choice based on the issue the politicians stand for and accordingly hold them accountable if they renege on their promises.
However, it’s a different situation in the Gambia where voters and party surrogates seldom base their electoral choices based on issues and programs. An election season is mostly characterized by opportunism, character assassination, political vendetta, vilification, slander, and trading insults. Per IEC regulations, each party must release a manifesto containing their programs and policies. Notwithstanding, one barely sees political parties discuss and address the electorate about what they have in store for them in case they win the elections.
The Gambia is faced with a plethora of challenges that need to be addressed with a sense of urgency, including the growing insecurity, inflation, high living cost, rampant corruption, inefficiency, power and water shortage, dilapidated healthcare system, low education standards and pending reforms, among others.
With the proliferation of parties in the Gambia, one cannot help but wonder what distinguishes them and how they can carve out a niche for themselves. As such, I believe it is essential for the electorate to insist on a presidential debate involving all aspirants who must face the nation to address issues as well as convince the electorate why they should vote for them. The electorate should not vote for candidates who scratch the surface of perennial challenges; instead, they should give their votes to candidates with a clear vision and plan to turn the fortunes of our impoverished country.
As a nation, we need to shift our attention from persons to issues if we stand any chance of catching up, not with the developed world, but at least benchmark with neighbouring countries.
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