By Talibeh Hydara
At least five candidates whose nominations were rejected by the Independent Electoral Commission have vowed to appeal the decision.
The electoral body Saturday cleared only six candidates to contest next month’s presidential polls, rejecting the nominations of 15 aspirants, mainly independent candidates.
Gambia Moral Congress candidate, Mai Ahmad Fatty; Citizens’ Alliance candidate, Dr Ismaila Ceesay; Gambia Action Party candidate, Major Alieu Sowe; Alliance for National Reorientation and Development candidate, General Lamin Bojang; Gambia Alliance for National Unity candidate, Sheikh Tijan Hydara; Democratic Party candidate, Yusupha Dumbuya; independent candidates Bankole Yao Jojo Ahadzie, Mamadou Bah, Mathew Gomez, Joseph Henry Joof, Papa Faal, Marie Sock, Sheikh Matarr Nyang; Mamadi Camara, Alagie Mamadi Kurang, and Ebrima Tabora Manneh have all been disqualified.
Reacting shortly after the announcement, GMC leader Mai Ahmad Fatty, who IEC said didn’t produce the required 200 voters as a support of nomination from Banjul, retorted: “I am disappointed that the IEC claimed the reason for not accepting my nomination was because we did not have the required number of 200 voters nomination from Banjul. This is inaccurate. We filed way in excess of that number with the IEC. The process is not yet over. I will file an immediate appeal against this wrongful decision.”
Mr Fatty released a video on Saturday night claiming he was at Election House to deliver his appeals letter but there was nobody.
“I am currently at the IEC to file my appeal as required. The chairman of the IEC announced publicly before the world that an appeal should be filed before midnight. Shortly after that public announcement, they closed their doors and went home. No one was there to receive my letter of appeal. I spoke to Mr Samboujang Njie on the phone who told me he wasn’t the returning officer and that it’s the IEC chairman whose job it was to receive my appeal. Then I spoke to Chairman Alieu Momarr Njai himself who also ping-ponged me back to Mr Samboujang Njie, the CEO of IEC. At the end, they both concluded that nothing could be done, and that I had indeed fully complied with the law. [However] my appeal has not been received as dictated by the law. We know we submitted more than 200 legitimate voters from Banjul, and the IEC made an error,” Mr Fatty said. “We are optimistic that the error made by the IEC would be corrected, and we would join others in a contest of ideas to present pragmatic policy alternatives to the electorate.”
The Gambia Action Party, whose candidate was rejected because of “forgery” on the nomination form, denied IEC’s falsification claims, insisting that the party met all the requirements.
“As far as I know, GAP fulfilled all the requirements and will file an appeal against the chairman’s decision that disqualified our candidate. GAP did not forge the process! We are calling on all GAP supporters to remain loyal to the rule of law as enshrined in our modus operandi. We will survive this test too,” a statement signed by GAP’s admin secretary Muhammed Yaffa, said.
General Lamin Bojang, whose nomination was rejected because ANRD didn’t have the required 5,000 votes, claimed his party even had a surplus.
“We have already submitted an appeal this morning [yesterday] and we are now waiting for the returning officer. When the party was being registered, we submitted 17,000, that is 7,000 more than the required number. How can we not be able to submit 5,000 now?
We even sent them a surplus of 96 should there be any vetting issues,” General Bojang told The Standard.
A similar reason for rejection was handed to Dr Ismaila Ceesay of Citizens’ Alliance. But in a video released to his supporters, the former university lecturer said: “I want to make it clear that we submitted over 250 signatures from Banjul but IEC is saying that is less than 200. We have made a decision to appeal this decision by the IEC and by tomorrow [Sunday], we will send in the appeal and wait for the outcome.”
Independent candidate Ebrima Tabora Manneh, who was rejected because he submitted his nomination under an unregistered party, also told The Standard that he will appeal.