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HomeBreaking NewsGAMBIA: IEC URGED TO ENSURE GAMBIAN DIASPORA VOTE IN 2026

GAMBIA: IEC URGED TO ENSURE GAMBIAN DIASPORA VOTE IN 2026

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A research commissioned by the Centre for Human Rights and financed by Article 19 on proactive disclosure of information and elections in The Gambia has advised that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) guarantee that the Gambian diaspora votes in 2026. In January 2021, Gambians in the diaspora sued the government and the IEC for continuing to disenfranchise over 200,000 Gambians living overseas. In March of that year, the Supreme Court declared that, under Section 39 of the Constitution, any Gambian, even those living beyond the jurisdiction, had the right to register and vote in elections. However, the IEC ignored this order and proceeded with a countrywide voter registration drive in June and July 2021, alleging a shortage of resources. At the end of July 2021, around 987,484 Gambians had registered, which is low considering that the number of registered voters in 2016 was 886,578. This implies that five years later, just roughly 100,000 additional persons registered. According to the detailed report, authored by Jeggan Grey-Johnson and covering issues such as access to information and the 2021 presidential election, election management, political parties and candidates, election observers and monitors, and others, the IEC should urgently halt the diaspora’s continued disenfranchisement and facilitate processes to ensure that Gambians abroad are registered to vote and have the opportunity to vote in all elections from t It went on to say that the IEC must follow and execute applicable court decisions. “Implement the recommendations of the various EOMs (the AU, ECOWAS, EU, EISA, and local observers), which are anchored on improving the democratic dispensation through the strengthening of election integrity, implement the recommendations of the final report of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy on the 2021 presidential elections, nurture and sustain a culture of proactive disclosure of its processes, including procurement, contracting, and appointment, and regular disclosure of its processes.” The study suggested that the IEC disclose and make available the procedure for selecting and appointing IEC members, as well as the IEC’s compensation and working conditions. “It should also facilitate access to information through record-keeping, proactive disclosure and establishing clear procedures, publish and make available details of all objections, complaints or petitions received, and how they were addressed and publish and make available evidence of all candidates’ qualifications, asset declarations and sworn affidavits at least three months before an election for public scrutiny within a reasonable timeframe,” the statement said. The IEC, according to the study, should conduct a financial and performance audit after each election (presidential, National Assembly, and local government) and publish the results. 2nd page of 2 “It should also promote active participation in electoral processes and exercises through systematic and sustained civic and democracy education programmes, manage all political party funding and donations in adherence to the law and provide leadership and strategic partnerships, and strengthen its convening power within the Inter-Party Committee and amongst all candidates vying for public office,” the statement said. The research indicated that the IEC has faced several issues caused by its own actions over the years, including a mindset that it is above the law, an inability to respond to probity and public criticism, and an unwillingness to engage stakeholders in an open and transparent way. “It has often been defensive, confrontational, enigmatic, and aloof. It must make every effort to change its behavior, which weakens its credibility and validity as an election management agency. The IEC plainly suffers from a lack of confidence. As a result, it must embrace and cherish its mission, which extends beyond election management, and recognize that it is a service delivery institution responsible to all stakeholders, according to the paper.

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