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Monday, January 18, 2021

Auditor General intervenes in IEC election materials saga

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By Omar Bah

The Auditor General has convened a meeting between the Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA) and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to discuss the contentions regarding the contract for the purchase of election materials.

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The Electoral Commission wants to award the contract for the procurement of election materials to Electoral Service International (ESI) despite GPPA’s refusal to grant approval.

ESI is competing with a German company Dermalog, a Chinese company Ekemp International, and the Gambian Smart Business Group.

GPPA has since warned that the IEC’s plan to go against its advice to contract the Canadian company with the supply of election material a will be “illegal” and a contravention of the Procurement Act.

Consequently, the auditor general on Tuesday invited both parties to a meeting in an attempt to address the issue.

“It is true that the auditor general invited the GPPA DG to a meeting with the IEC on Tuesday,” a source at GPPA told this newspaper.

The source said during the meeting, the GPPA boss was adamant that he was not going to approve the contract if the IEC fails to submit the required information requested by his office.

The GPPA has demanded that the IEC provides them with the credentials of the staff working with the Canadian company among other things.

According to the source, the IEC has finally submitted some information about the company to the GPPA for their review and final recommendations.

“It is now up to the GPPA to decide whether the IEC should go ahead with the contract or not. The GPPA will complete the review by Friday (today). The GPPA boss had also made it clear to the Auditor General that his office has nothing against the IEC,” the source said.

When contacted for comment, IEC Chairman Alieu Momarr Njai confirmed the meeting but he was quick to stress that the commission still maintained its prerogative to award the contract to the Canadian company.

“Irrespective of what happens next, we will have to buy the materials because without the materials there will be no voter registration or election. But we are hopeful that we will come to an agreement,” he said.

A source at the Auditor General’s Office confirmed the meeting but wouldn’t comment any further.

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