A report, which assessed the level of The Gambia’s compliance with the ACHPR Guidelines within the dictates of the Access to Information Act and other existing legislations, has recommended for the government to prioritise a Political Party Funding Act.
The issue of political party funding and disclosures of funding have been contentious over the past years as political parties always argue that they cannot be compelled to reveal their donors if the government is not funding their activities.
But according to the report, prepared for ACHPR by ATI on Elections – The Gambia, the Political Party Funding Act should provide legislation for the annual disbursement of public money to political parties represented in the National Assembly based on the best practice of other AU member states, and to devise a mechanism that will track expenditure of such funds to ensure their utilisation in a judicious and transparent manner.
The report further recommended the regularisation of private funding to political parties and devise a mechanism requiring the disclosure of all donations above 50,000 dalasi by political parties and their donors, and impose certain restrictions on the source and use of such donations.
The report also recommended for the government to reintroduce the 2020 Draft Constitution to the Sixth Assembly for swift passage to a referendum, implement the recommendations of the NHRC Advisory Note on the Elections Act vis-a-vis the 1997 Constitution and the 2020 Draft Constitution, fast track the institutionalisation and operationalisation of access-to-information processes as required by the Access to Information Act.
“The government should ensure that there is legislation and power given to the IEC to regulate the utilisation of state resources, six months before and after an election, to stem the persistent culture of abuse of state resources during elections. This should include all regulatory and enforcement resources as outlined in the AU Guidelines on Access to information on Elections,” it added.
It also called for the full implementation of the recommendations from the various EOMs (the AU, ECOWAS, EU, EISA, and local observers), whose suggestions are anchored in the need for an improved democratic dispensation through the strengthening of election integrity and that the disenfranchisement of the Diaspora should be halted by extending the franchise to it, as reaffirmed by the Supreme Court ruling.
“Reform the appointment processes of the IEC Commissioners to reflect the independence, integrity, credibility and national character of the country (gender balance, intergenerational mix, religious minorities and people with disabilities) so that it is responsive to the demands of a modern elections management body by ensuring that: Commissioners are appointed by the president (from a shortlist) through a public process for vetting and interviewing candidates, led by the National Assembly, members of the Inter-Party Committee and the Public Service Commission.”
According to report, the IEC should be compelled to adhere to the principles of a service delivery entity as well as an organiser of elections, and be empowered to be transparent and accessible in its response to the public and stakeholders with respect to information on all their processes, including the tenders, contracts, documents submitted by political parties and candidates for all elections, as per legislation and the regulations.
The report added that the IEC has, over the years, been plagued by many challenges including the attitude that it is above the law, with its unresponsiveness to probity and public criticism, and its unwillingness to engage stakeholders in an open and transparent manner.
The ATT- Gambia Election comprises researchers Jeggan Gey Johnson, Sait Maty Jow and Yusuf Taylor.