By Aja Musu Bah Daffeh
Alieu Momarr Njai, the Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) give statements at the training of political parties as part of activities leading to the National Assembly Elections slated for 6th April, 2017. He spoke at the opening of a three day sensitization meeting scheduled at TANGO conference Hall from Tuesday 21st to Thursday 23rd February, 2017.
Chairman Njai acknowledged the political parties for participating very well in the 1st December, 2016 Presidential election noting that they have played a great role and hopes that the same spirit will continue in the upcoming elections.
The IEC Chairman said the commission had recently launched the activities leading to the National Assembly Election of 6th April, 2017. He said the training is aimed at sensitizing the Political parties and Candidates on the roles and responsibilities of the actors in the electoral process. “Furthermore, the commission is committed to maintaining a credible voter registration and carrying out continuous voter education” said IEC Chairman.
He laid emphasis on what an Election Management Body is and its role in the democratic process adding that EMB is an organization that has the sole purpose of organizing elections, and is legally responsible for managing the elements that are essential for the conduct of elections and direct democratic instruments such as referenda. He said IEC operates under the motto ‘fair play, integrity and transparency which ideals it has lived up to over the years.
“I enjoin all political parties and candidates to keep on adding more value to what they are doing which includes, providing useful platform for mobilization and for articulation of societal needs and concerns, facilitate mobilization, socialization, civic and political education. Creating spaces for representation of citizens’ views and needs and promoting competition on high voter turnout and sustaining democratic participation and conclusion” said Chairman Njai.
He outlined the qualifications of a National Assembly Member and added that a candidate must be a citizen of The Gambia, a candidate must attain the age of twenty one years and should be able to speak English Language with a degree of proficiency sufficient to enable him/her to take part in the proceedings of the National Assemble. He also said the candidate shall be nominated by not less than three hundred voters whose names appear in the register of voters for the constituency for which he/she seeks to be elected.
He continued that the candidate is to pay a deposit of fifty thousand dalasis (D50, 000) as amended including the candidates representative symbol, colour and photographs.
He asserted that section 90 of the constitution of The Gambia states that no person is qualified for election as a member of the National Assembly if he/she holds the citizenship of a country other than The Gambia, is adjudged under any law of The Gambia to be of unsound mind, if he/she has been found guilty of any abuse of office, corruption or any offence connected with public elections by a court.
Mr. Momarr added that the IEC will only announce results that depict the voice of the people. “We Gambians should pride ourselves that our electoral system is second to none and worthy of emulation, the IEC will immediately address any query or objection raised by any registered political party, candidate or party agent on issues impacting on the electoral conduct or process,” he concludes.