As the December 2021 presidential election approaches, The Gambia Independent Electoral Commission is busy putting the final touches ahead of what is believed to be the most highly contested election in the history of The Gambia’s post-dictatorship era.
The IEC has already announced the dates for the voter registration campaign. The registration will start from 29th May to 11th July 2021. This year, more than one Million Gambians will vote compared to the 2016 presidential election, where less than 600,000 voted.
As part of its preparation, the Commission has started recruiting qualified Gambians for various positions to help the Commission implement its policy and directives.
The Commission has also mentioned that the diaspora Gambians will be registered to vote for the first time in Gambia’s political history. But sceptics like Madi Ceesay, the National Assembly Member for Serrekunda West, told the Brunch on Kerr Fatou that “I can tell you that this government is not serious in diaspora voting.”
On Monday 26th April 2021, the Commission will conduct interviews for shortlisted candidates for General Registration of Voters 2021. The Commission will test the candidates on their computer skills abilities.
In February, the IEC chairman Alieu Momarr Njai told the chronicle that the IEC would register the diaspora to vote. “It is their constitutional right to participate in elections,” he said.
The National Assembly Member for Banjul South, Touma Ousainou Njai, also said that “Every citizen of the Gambia being of eighteen years old, and sound-minded, shall have the right to vote for the election of a president.” She also said, “Members of the National Assembly, and shall be entitled to be registered as a voter.”
While some people continue to float the idea of updating the voter registration only every decade, Hon, Njai said, “if the registration is every ten years, qualified citizens with the right to vote and be voted for could be denied their right to vote even if they turn eighteen.”
Hopes that the draft constitution would improve the existing legislation and rules got dashed away when parliaments rejected the constitution bill last year. Efforts to rewrite a level playing text for free and fair elections are yet to materialize through the Election Bill currently lingering at the National Assembly.
Attorney General Dawda Jallow tabled it after consultations with President Adama Barrow, his cabinet, and representatives of registered political parties.