By Omar Bah
The former chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, Mustapha Carayol, has called for the removal of the current IEC boss Alieu Momar Njai, saying he is not capable of running elections.
Mr Carayol, 85, said Mr Njai, 87, is not capable of spearheading the December presidential election.
Mr Carayol recommended for the appointment of one Tony Secka, believed to be a staff of the IEC.
Speaking in a Star FM weekly live phone-in show anchored by Pa Nderry Touray, Carayol, who was Njai’s boss, said: “I want to appeal to the head of state and all political parties to remove this man [Alieu Momar Njai] and bring in Tony Secka if they want a free and fair election. To avoid what happened in the past, if I had the power, I would sack Alieu Momar Njai today because he doesn’t have the capability to conduct the election,” Carayol said.
He added: “We all know what happened in 2016 and his situation is worse now. He is not capable. He just wants to stay on. In fact, nobody is in government right now who is 87 years old. Let him leave that place and allow a younger person to take over so that peace will reign in this country.”
Asked whether removing the chairman two months before the election will not affect the process, Carayol added: “I was appointed chairman in July 2006 and conducted the election in September. Many people thought I would not be able to do it but I did it successfully and I know if they give it to Tony Secka, he can do it. I have confident in him because right now, among those working at the IEC, he is the only person capable of being a chairman. All the rest cannot do it.”
Further asked whether he has any agenda or grudge against Mr Njai, Carayol replied: “Oh no, I am the one who brought this guy to the commission. I recommended for him to be appointed on two occasions. When I recommended at first, I traveled to South Africa before I returned, Yahya Jammeh appointed him as acting mayor but he was later removed. When I had another vacancy, I recommended him again but initially, Jammeh refused to appoint him. There was this push-and-pull and the current Minister of Finance was present when Jammeh was telling me Alieu Momar Njai had been implicated in a case and I should not allow him to destroy my legacy but I said no, Mr Njai was taken to court and was acquitted”.
Carayol said at that juncture, the former Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service, Njogu Bah intervened and told Jammeh that “I was right, Njai was cleared by the court.
“I don’t have anything against him because I don’t want the position. Even if you give me D1 million monthly salary, I will not take the position because I cannot run it. I will be 85 years old on 10th October. I don’t wish to work for government again and if Alieu Momar Njai had wisdom, he would not have worked for government by now,” he said.
The Standard contacted Mr Njai about this scathing attack on him by his former boss but he replied that he is not feeling well.
Alieu Momar Njai got widespread praise and recognition for presiding over what was deemed as the freest and fairest election in 2016 in which former president Jammeh was defeated. He has once again repeated and assured Gambians that he would deliver another free and fair election on December 4.
However, elections under Jammeh including during the chairmanship of Carayol, had been considered not free but Mr Carayol has denied that he ever helped Jammeh rig elections when he was IEC chairman.