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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Gambia politico: How mercenaries kill our democracy

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By Yankuba Dabo

Democracy suffers when mercenaries are hired to kill it. Though it ought to be accepted that there will always be cynics on any issue of public contention, but in our democracy, certain cynics are not cynics, but mercenaries, hell bent on stifling our democracy, in order to satisfy their paymasters or for bigotry.

Hence, even after being confronted with irrefutable evidence, the cynics are saying if the UDP had such evidence of fraud, why didn’t the party  take its claim of voter fraud to the revising courts set up after the completion of voter registration?

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Such cynics simply do not want to appreciate the grand scheme of fraud perpetrated by the National People’s Party of President Adama Barrow and the Mercenary Independent Electoral Commission of The Gambia (M-IEC).

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From the outset, the UDP was the only political party in The Gambia that had ensured that it had party agents at all the voter registration centres assigned by the M-IEC from 29th May 2021 to 11th July 2021. The party further assigned a team, labelled by President Barrow as “Black Black”, to visit all the registration centres across the length and breadth of the country, to ensure that no irregularities take place at any of the registration centres.

Thus, if any fraudulent registration was to happen at such registration centres, the party would have known and challenge them at the revising courts, which are ad hoc courts established mainly for such purposes for a short period of time, in our case for only 30 days in September 2021, after which the courts are dissolved. The UDP did not challenge any voter registration in the revising court, because it had no cause to do so based on the evidence provided at the official registration centres that the party invigilated.

However, the M-IEC’s fraudulent registrations, as proven by evidence, did not take place at those official registration centres or times, for the most obvious reasons, as they did not want the UDP to become aware of their fraud, in order to deprive them  the opportunity to challenge such registrations at the revising court!

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Clever, you would think, but they failed to appreciate that the voter card numbers of the 2021 voter’s cards include the date and time of the issuance of the voter’s cards. Thus, one can tell the date, time and place a particular voter’s card was issued by checking the face of the voter’s card.

As such, the registration of the mercenary voters, hired simply to kill the will of the Gambian people at the polls, did not happen at the official registration centres and times, which is also captured in the evidence of the mercenary voter’s cards issued, but at registration centres best known to the M-IEC.

Furthermore, the M-IEC did not provide the public or the opposition parties with the final master roll of all the registered voters before the end of the term of the revising courts. Instead, they merely gave the public the total number of registered voters for each region and finally the country as a whole, but did not provide the master roll with the voter’s card printout of all the registered voters to the opposition parties.

The master roll was only provided to the opposition parties a week before the election date in December 2021, at which point, there was no revising court sitting. Thus, you could say, they succeeded in perfectly denying the opposition parties the opportunity to challenge their registration of mercenary or ineligible voters into the national voter roll of The Gambia for 2021.

You would think it’s a script from a dictator’s playbook on how to rig a presidential election in Africa. But this can only happen with the complicity of the electoral body. If such a body were independent and impartial, as it is expected of our IEC, it would not have been possible.

So the opposition UDP only became aware of such fraud after the election, simply because small border hamlets with seven compounds and a population of 100 people were polling thousand voters on election date, which could not make sense to even a toddler, and one wonders where all the voters hailed from.

The answer is simple. They came from the neighbouring country of Senegal and were registered at convenient places and issued with Gambian voter’s cards which allowed them to vote for their paymaster as instructed. These mercenary voters cannot be prevented from voting on election day, even if detected, because they carried valid voter’s cards issued to them by the electoral body.

Welcome to electoral fraud, Gambian style. This is how the incumbent succeeded in overthrowing himself in the name of a faux election victory fathered by Yahya Jammeh and mothered by Adama Barrow!

Once this fraud is detected, the opposition as in the UDP case, are left with one limited option to challenge and that is to challenge it at the supreme court by way of an election petition. It is always an arduous fight for such petitions to succeed in African courts due to bias of mercenary judges in the court system especially when dealing with political matters involving the incumbent!

However, recently countries such as Kenya and Malawi have given hope that African courts are willing to uphold the will of the people. The UDP had banked on such a hope and took its petition to the country’s apex court in December 2021, but disappointingly it was blocked at the entrance and not allowed inside, which meant despite its merits which included a claim of fraud, the petition was thrown into the bin.

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