Gambians resident outside the country have issued a petition urging the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to commence the process of enfranchising them. The five-point petition states:
“After enduring 22 years of dictatorship under former President Yahya Jammeh, Gambians voted for a new president, Adama Barrow, to lead the nation-rebuilding process of the New Gambia. Gambians living abroad played a key role in the struggle for justice and good governance that culminated in the formation of a coalition of seven political parties, which contested and won the presidential election that brought an end to Jammeh’s rule on 1st December 2016.
“Although the right of every Gambian, resident at home or abroad, to vote in general elections is guaranteed in the Constitution of The Republic of The Gambia, the government under former President Jammeh failed to demonstrate the commitment and support that the IEC required to discharge its mandate to register Gambians living abroad to vote, as prescribed under Section 11 of the Elections Act. As a result, a large number of Gambians living abroad have been disenfranchised and denied the right to fully participate in the affairs of their country.
“The Gambia has now entered a new challenging phase, which all well-meaning Gambians, friends of The Gambia and the country’s development partners hope will set the foundation for a truly democratic country that fully subscribes to the universally accepted principles of good governance and transparency, to deliver peace and prosperity to the people of The Gambia. In this regard, the enfranchisement of Gambians living abroad is not
democratic gains of the New Gambia. Like our Senegalese counterparts, Gambians living abroad should be allowed, without undue burden, to take part in elections at home.
“We respectfully demand of the IEC to discharge, with absolute urgency, its constitutional duty to register Gambians living abroad to take part in the upcoming constitutional referendum and subsequent elections, in accordance with the Constitution and Section 11 of the Elections Act of The Gambia. Specifically:
1. We ask the IEC to announce a timeline for the registration of Gambians living abroad;
2. We ask the IEC to clearly spell out the registration process for Gambians living abroad;
3. We ask the IEC to announce the registration centres abroad, where Gambians living abroad shall be registered;
4. We ask the IEC to clearly spell out what documents Gambians living abroad would need in order to be registered to vote; and
5. We ask the IEC to clearly spell out how Gambians living abroad shall vote in elections and how votes cast outside the country shall be counted.”