Kebba Ansu Manneh
Hon. Halifa Sallah, Secretary General of Opposition People’s Democracy for Independent and Socialism (PDOIS) has stated that the issue of Non-Gambians interfering and participating in Gambia’s election is a very complex issue that both past and present political leadership of the country are not willing to solve
The former Serrakunda Lawmaker and Minority Leader of Gambia’s National Assembly made these remarks in response to questions at a press conference held at the PDOIS Bureau in Churchill’s Town, Serra Kunda, on 31st March 2023, where he said his party will be enlightening the masses on the electoral code of conduct as a mean of ending political patronage in the country.
“The issue of what you call outsiders interference or what you call participating in our elections is a very complex issue, extremely complex and your (Gambian) leaders are not interested in solving the problem from the first republic, second republic until now. When I said leaders and I’m telling you all your political leaders are not interested in solving the problem,” Hon. Halifa Sallah observed.
He added: “It’s a blanket statement because we should debate on this issue. If we started the debate in the first republic, the problem would have ended a long time ago.”
According to him, if the political leadership of the country has been committed to solving the interference and participation of Non-Gambians in the electioneering process of the country it would have come up with a clear template on who can become citizens.
He noted that all the political leadership shares this blame in the sense that they should explain things clearly to the people who could get naturalized and work together to ensure that those people who have the qualifications to naturalize will naturalize.
“Let me give you an example, there should be no country with a proper registration of births and deaths, in the first republic, 1965, constitution it stated that that the Gambian citizen is one born in The Gambia or one of the parents born in The Gambia or naturalization then it goes further that you may be a Gambian citizen through marriage and you can also be a Gambian citizen through naturalization,” PDOIS Secretary General explained.
He added: “In that constitution it also states that those people who are born in The Gambia before 18th February 1965 or parents who are not born in The Gambia could register to become Gambians that was not communicated to those leading at that time, supposed at that time that was communicated and all those people got registered as Gambian citizens in 1965, and their parents naturalize to be Gambian citizens and you have proper registration of births and deaths, how can we have a problem of anybody infiltrating your system.”
The Veteran politician emphasize that the first republic failed on that score for not coming up with a clear template on citizenship matters, noting that the matter could have been addressed in the 1970 constitution before its adoption so that people will be registered but were unable to get registered by 1970, and their parents could have naturalized but that also did not happen.
“If we have done that we would not be having these problems now. That’s why I said we are all to be blame in the sense that we should explain things clearly to the people, when we explain clearly to the people and explain to those people who could also naturalize and all of us work together to ensure that those people who have the qualifications to naturalize will naturalize then you can have a good clear template and all those who have the qualifications to naturalize will naturalize,” Hon. Halifa Sallah further observed.
He added: ” By a given time and by naturalization, their children will automatically become Gambian citizens and it moves further and further and we ensure that we have a proper registration of births and deaths then it will not be possible for us to have this problem. But the advice is that supporting anybody to come to power will not mean that that person will be free from poverty, you will live in the same condition as other Gambians are living in.”
He disclosed that PDOIS will be engaging the masses on Gambia’s electoral code of conduct by propagating its content to the public with the view to estimating political patronage in the country.