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GAMBIA: GOVERNMENT URGED TO ENACT LAW TO GIVE PUBLIC FUNDS TO POLITICAL PARTIES

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It has been advised that the government and the National Assembly give a Political Party Funding Act top priority in a study on proactive disclosure of information and elections in The Gambia, which was commissioned by the Centre for Human Rights and financed by Article19.

The thorough report revealed that the Act will establish legislation for the yearly distribution of public funds to political parties represented in the National Assembly based on the best practices of other AU member states. It also covered issues of access to information and the 2021 presidential elections, election management, political parties and candidates, election observers and monitors, among others.
According to the paper, “it will also develop a mechanism that will track expenditure of such funds to ensure their utilisation in a prudent and transparent manner for the purposes for which they have been allocated.”

The legislation would also limit the source and use of private money (contributions) to political parties, and it will establish a process mandating the disclosure of all donations above D50,000 dalasi ($700) by political parties and their contributors.
To stop the pervasive culture of misusing state resources during elections, make sure the IEC has legal authority to control how state resources are used in the six months leading up to and after a vote. All tools for regulation and enforcement listed in the Guidelines on Access to Information and Elections in Africa should be included in this, it was added.

The study recommended the government to adopt the recommendations from the different EOMs (the AU, ECOWAS, EU, EISA, and local observers), whose ideas are based on the need of a strengthened electoral system in order to better democratic governance.

As reiterated by the Supreme Court decision, ensure that the disenfranchisement of the diaspora is stopped by extending the vote to them.

Constitution

The study proposed that, before the next general election in 2026, the government resubmit the 2020 Draft Constitution for speedy passage to a referendum and allow the populace choose how they desire to be governed and by which set of ambitions they wish to be steered.

“Fast track the institutionalization and operationalization of the information access processes as required by the information access act.”

IEC

The study also advised the government to change how IEC commissioners are appointed so that they better represent the nation’s independence, integrity, credibility, and national character while also taking into consideration concerns of gender equality, intergenerational diversity, religious minorities, and people with disabilities.

“So that it is responsive to the demands of a modern election management body by ensuring that its commissioners are appointed by the president (from a shortlist) through a public process for vetting and interviewing candidates, led by members of the National Assembly, the Inter-Party Committee, and the Public Service Commission,” it said.
The IEC should also be given the authority to respond to the public and stakeholders with respect to information on all of its processes, including the tenders, contracts, and documents submitted by political parties and candidates for all elections, in accordance with laws and regulations, and should be required to uphold the principles of a service delivery entity as well as an organizer of elections.

A political party financing law would outline the public and private funding of political parties, restrict the disclosure of contributions received, ban some donations given directly to political parties, and specify the obligations of political parties with regard to funding.

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