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Gambians warned to desist from selling votes

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By Omar Bah

Lamin Chamang Komma, a US-based Gambian civil society leader, has appealed to Gambians to desist from selling their votes.

“It is shameful to sell your vote. There is no amount of money that is worth your sovereignty. It will only take a shameless person to sell his vote and then turn around to discuss matters affecting his country,” Komma told The Standard.

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Mr Komma, who traveled from the United States to obtain his voter’s card, said every Gambian should realise that the December election is a matter of making or breaking The Gambia.

“It is going to be about our future and the future of generations yet to be born. This is why I traveled from America to come home to register and take part in shaping a new destiny for my country,” he said.

Implications

Komma said there are several negative political consequences that emerge from the practice of selling votes or buying voter cards.

“In The Gambia the effect is consequential because vote selling would inevitably create a dependency of such voters on the income or material incentives that they are receiving for their votes,” he said.

This, he argued, will further perpetuate “a type of poverty trap and insulate a hegemonic power that will violate the rights of most of the citizens”.

“Vote buying is simply electoral fraud and clandestine as well as illegal efforts to shape election results. Selling one’s vote is a fraud that takes on a panoply of arrangements; it ranges from procedural violations of electoral law intended to distort results and the outright use of violence against voters,” he said.

Such fraudulent activity, he added, undermines political stability because, in close races between two parties, it can be crucial.

“It also discourages political competition which may shape the rhythm and nature of the electoral process in a country,” he added.

He said vote buying in The Gambia will be an attempt to steal election which indicates that such “a party lacks the moral compass to lead the country”.

“In general, vote selling is rarely an isolated action because it perpetuates corruption in the entire political system. When a candidate chooses to buy for support, instead of competing freely for votes, it fundamentally illustrates a disregard for democratic norms and a willingness to use illegal means,” he said.

Vote selling, he added, will obstruct the democratic process by interfering with the rights of Gambians to freely decide who will represent them and their interests.

“Similarly, such actions will result in the candidate with the deepest pockets winning the election, rather than the candidate who would best serve the interest of the Gambian people,” he added.

This, he further argued, is because elections create a social contract between candidates and citizens who will vote with the presumption that the contenders will govern along the lines of their stated policy framework.

He said observation about the impending Gambian election, selling votes will enable poor governance and undercut citizens’ ability to hold their elected officials accountable.

“Because the candidates understand that all they need to do to be elected is pay off voters and government officials, ultimately, they will have no incentive to be responsive to issues their population care about — such issues as water, road, sanitation, education, and unemployment,” he said.

Diaspora voting

The US-based Gambian registered his disappointment over what he describes as the government’s refusal to afford the diaspora the opportunity to vote in December.

“I believe the government had a very preconceived mind about the Diaspora that we are always criticising them and that they may not have too much support there but this is so unfair to the over 200, 000 Gambians living abroad,” he said.

He also urged Gambians to desist from tribal insults.  

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