Monday, August 9, 2010

The Concept and Practice of Free and Fair Election

NEWS BANJUL THE GAMBIA  -The phrase "free and fair' is commonly used in election discourse, and
it is for certain that many countries do use the phrase but do not go by the phrase, if we are true observants in the African continent, we will come to realize that many incumbents has has failed their citizens. Why are free and fair elections so important to politicians, ordinary persons, and the internationality community and all these insist on it ?

Going by the phrase in election discourse, a free and fair election gives credence to the idea that the people are sovereign and have a right to keep or get rid of their government, which underpins democracy. One can also say that a free and fair elections reveals the true will of the electorate and is, therefore, the only legitimate entrance to democratic leadership. If we talk about free and fair elections in Africa and beyond, and by  exercising the vote freely, the people should choose and give legitimacy to their political leaders. In another context, free and fair elections mirror the extend  of freedom in society, in the sense that most, if not all, the freedoms we know of are on test during the entire election period; free association, free assembly, free environment, free expression, and free choice.
For an election to be free and fair, people must be free to do certain things that is the general environment must be free from certain things that is free violence, coercion, bribery, corruption, cheating arresting, harassing, intimidation, rigging, abuse of incumbency etc. Election laws must be non-discriminatory and should equally to all participants in the electoral process, in addition, regulations should not be set up to make things difficult for the people to fulfill.
As the saying goes, elections are one of the key instruments for facilitating good governance practices, the fear of defeat at elections trends to engender responsiveness to the concerns of the people and to promote good performance and public accountability. Nowadays, international recognition and support for developing countries are often linked to the conduct of free and fair elections. Free and fair elections are important in any democratic society and need to be well-managed as all these counts an important part of the
democracy index.
Indeed, they are essential to consolidate peace, democracy, good governamce and the rule of law. When we talk about  free and fair elections, the government must provide adequate funds to make sure that elections goes peacefully and should not abuse incumbency. Electoral management bodies and all election officials should be transparent in executing their functions during election periods. It's important to note that every democratic country prohibits certain behavior or actions for purposes of achieving free, fair  and competitive elections. Electoral activities, including: registration, nomination, campaiging, and the conduct of
On some of the electoral offences, it is an offence to offer false information for purposes of nomination as a candidate, to vote in the name of another person, living, death or fictitious and to put anything other than a ballot toke or paper into ballot box. In many countries, it is an offence to remove or deface any notice
lawfully displayed in connection with an election.
To register more than once throughout the entire country, to forge or destroy a nomination form or ballot paper or token or an election result or any form related to an election could be an offence in any
election in Africa and beyond. Again, to be in possession of a ballot box or to tamper or interfere in anyway with a ballot box or its contents during an election and to deliberately obstruct or interfere with the worker of an election officer.
Another side of the coin when we talk about election offences is when a voter is prevent from freely exercising his or her right to vote. To assist s political party or candidate to gain unfair advantage over others in the contest and to give or accept anything of value for purposes of voting or restraining from voting.
In Africa it is also common that politicians make or spoke word or supporters singing songs that are false statement about the personal character of a candidate or the conduct of political party, one can
label all these as election offences. If we want free and fair elections, we must not organise or train a group of persons in the use of force, violence, or vituperative songs, with a view to commiting disharmony or a breach of the peace or gaining and unfair advantage in an election.

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