By MUHAMMED SAILU BAH
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) yesterday, 26 August 2015, at the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA) conference hall commenced a two day workshop to train its commissioners and staff on the newly passed Electoral Amendment Act 2015.
In his welcoming remarks, Mr. Robert Anthony Secka, Chief Electoral Officer, IEC, said the aim of the workshop is to capacities their staff on both the new Election Amendment Act 2015 and other electoral laws.
“I would really want to take this opportunity to say let it be an open forum; a very frank and honest forum where we will discuss all these laws, the past and the present as they will be the hallmark of all our activities for the coming years,” he said.
In his opening statement, Mr. Mustapha L. Carayol, the IEC Chairman, said he wants to begin this address by thanking all Gambians who have in one way or the other contributed to, or facilitated the work of the IEC from its inception.
Mr, Carayol said chapter five of the Constitution of the Second Republic of the Gambia, 1997, places importance on the representation of the people by clearly portraying the establishment of the Independent Electoral Commission and outlining its duties and functions.
He said in carrying out its mandate, the IEC made all efforts to build on the gains made in the past in order to establish a sound democratic culture based on the right of the citizen to participate in the development of the country and to maintain at all times a free, fair and transparent electoral system.
He added “…attention has therefore been focused on the delivery of electoral services for the people of the Gambia to have the opportunity to participate in the development of the nation through the exercise of their right under the franchise to hold diverse political opinions, associate freely without undue hindrance and regularly elect their representatives in genuine elections, in an atmosphere of peace and tolerance for the fellow citizen.”
Chapter Five, he added, also touches on the right of the people to vote and be registered in order to take part in the political life of the nation at all levels of elective offices ranging from presidential, national assembly and local government elections.
He cited the assignment of re-demarcation which the IEC has undertaken leading to the creation of five more constituencies making the total number of constituencies to fifty three now.
“Kombo North with a voter population of 110,132 is divided into three constituencies namely: Sanneh Menterreng Constituency, Old Yundum Constituency and Busumbala Constituency.
Kombo Central with a voter population of 53,956 is divided into two constituencies namely: Brikama North Constituency and Brikama South Constituency.
Serekunda East with a voter population of 54,904 is divided into two constituencies namely: Tallinding Kunjang Constituency and Latrikunda Sabiji Constituency.
Serekunda Central with a voter population of 42,510 is now divided into two constituencies namely: Serekunda Constituency and Bundungka Kunda Constituency,” said the IEC Chairperson.
Mr. Carayol continued “As earlier on alluded to, Governance in the Gambia is based on a written constitution, which clearly defines the framework within which the Government operates, and prohibits over-concentration of authority in any one person or branch of government. The role of the Independent Electoral Commission in this arena is to avail the people of the Gambia the opportunity: (1) to associate freely and hold political opinion without undue hindrance; and (2) to elect their representatives in free and fair elections.”
He said the Commission encourages political plurality in line with the ideals of multi-party democracy as enshrined in the Constitution and that currently there are eleven (11) registered political parties.
“The Elections (Amendment) Act is a result of the reviews of the post election activities with a view to enhancing the electoral process. These amendments range from registration of political parties, voters’ registration to the conduct of elections,” he said.
He concluded by thanking the Government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs for providing the needed funds for the conduct of the Supplementary Registration of Voters.
“I wish to take the opportunity provided by this forum to announce to all Gambians, especially those without voters’ cards, to get prepared for very soon, the IEC will conduct the Supplementary Registration of Voters,” he disclosed.
The event was chaired by Mr. Joseph Colley, IEC Director of Training, Communication and Public Affairs.
By MUHAMMED SAILU BAH