The Elections (Amendment) Bill 2015 has been passed after the members of the National Assembly confirmed that they could do anything with bills by reducing the deposit for Presidential candidates from 1 Million to five hundred Thousand dalasis and that of National Assembly candidates from 100,000 dalasis to 50,000 dalasis. The amounts are now to be refundable.
It is very clear that the executive that introduced the Bill and the National Assembly members who supported the Bill have refused to recognise the Independence of the IEC and its mandatory powers to fix fees for the registration of political parties and deposits for candidates.
The Public outcry did have impact in getting the members to change some aspects of the Bill. The Bill is not yet law. This Bill did not aim to amend an entrenched clause which requires a referendum. It is introduced in the National Assembly after 14 days of publication in the Gazette. When introduced it is passed when supported by no less than two thirds of the members of the National Assembly.
The passing of a Bill alone does not make it a law. The President now has 30 days to assent to the Bill. After assenting to it the bill would have to be published in the Gazette within 30 days before it could become law.
It is then that legal and political battle could be intensified to uphold the Independence of the Electoral Commission.
As it stands the battle of ideas should continue with greater intensity so that every honest Gambian would know that the amendment is a threat to the Independence of the Commission and a barrier to the democratic and unrestricted participation of the people in electing their representatives. Foroyaa will do a vox pop to sound the opinion of the people.
The members of the National Assembly have passed the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2015 with amendments. They reduced the deposits to 500,000 dalasis for Presidential Candidates and 50,000 for National Assembly candidates.
Those who wish to register political Parties would have to pay a registration fee of 1 Million dalasis.