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Thursday, June 17, 2021

Finance minister accused of misleading parliament on diaspora voting

By Tabora Bojang

Central Baddibu lawmaker, Sulayman Saho has accused Finance Minister Mambury Njie of misleading the National Assembly when he gave a “false impression” during scrutiny of a 2021 budget regarding the registration of Gambians in the diaspora. 

The finance minister told lawmakers in April that the participation of the Gambian diaspora in the upcoming presidential election will require a supplementary appropriation because “diaspora voting is not budgeted in the 2021 estimates”. 

He also disclosed at the time that government had already disbursed over D120 million to the IEC to cover the election operations or costs.

But speaking to The Standard yesterday, the Baddibu NAM said the minister’s recent disclosure that there is no money to fund diaspora voting contradicted a previous statement to lawmakers.

He said the minister told them that part of the reasons why the budget estimates were high was because they were going to include the Diaspora in the electoral process beginning with the December election.

“It is not accurate for anybody to blame NAMs over the non-registration of Gambians abroad.  When Mambury Njie [Finance Minister] appeared before us to table the 2021 budget, we raised the question as to why the IEC’s budget allocation was very high and he clearly informed us on record that they were going to embark on diaspora registration. 

“So why is he coming again saying they don’t have any funds? That is what doubts me. He was trying to mislead the parliament and the Gambian public,” Mr Saho said.

Asked what other possible options the National Assembly could adopt to ensure the participation of the Diaspora in elections, Mr Saho he said it is too little too late for anything meaningful to be done.

“I don’t see any chance for Diaspora registration. It is history. The government has killed it so it has nothing to do with the parliament and we will not force them to table any supplementary bill. As far as I am concerned, it is history. It is impossible to get them registered. It’s too late,” the UDP lawmaker said.

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