By Omar Bah
A former chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission has denied any suggestions that he had rigged elections for Yahya Jammeh.
“I never helped Jammeh to win elections in this country.
Our election is very transparent and unique and as such, no one can rig it. I used to sit for a whole year without seeing Jammeh and I don’t even know Kanilai. I will only see him when I have a programme and need money,” Mustapha Carayol said in a Star FM interview to be aired this morning.
The former IEC chairman further said Jammeh has never forced him to announce results.
“And as far as I know, neither me nor Gabriel Roberts [his predecessor] has ever cheated elections for Jammeh,” Carayol added.
The former election office chief, a trained doctor, also noted that Jammeh has never personally given him a single butut. “My experience with Jammeh is that I made him understand that if you don’t fear God you cannot work with me. There were only two occasions that I quarreled with him and that was when I suggested for the introduction of biometric and spot counting. He had said that it was not secure,” Carayol said.
He argued that it would have been impossible to rig elections because from Fatoto to Banjul, all the political parties have had their agents all over.
“I even remembered on some occasions I used my own money to pay agents for parties who didn’t have any.
Those agents would be present during the counting and sign the results before they are sent to the IEC and even at the IEC, the party agents will first verify before the announcement is done,” he explained.
The leader of United Democratic Party, Ousainu Darboe, has repeatedly alleged that former president Jammeh used to rig presidential elections in order to stay in power.
But Carayol said Jammeh was actually beating his opponents at the polls. “Let them accept that. Jammeh was an incumbent with money and all chiefs, alkalolu and governors were all helping him. Even in 2016 Jammeh was defeated because things went wrong for him after he insulted the very people who should have voted for him. How can you insult people and expect them to vote for you? At some point I asked myself whether Jammeh was going mad. I was in the US at the time and told my family that Jammeh was going to lose the election,” Carayol added.
He said even his appointment as a member of the Provisional Independent Electoral Commission in 1995 came as a big surprise to him.
“We were not getting anything there at the time because we were being paid D3, 000 a month as allowance but people thought we were paid about D50, 000. There was no vehicle. I left my job which was giving me D50, 000 per month. I sacrificed for the country,” he said.
He said he even requested the cost of registering a political party to be D100, 000 but Jammeh returned it to D1M.
Carayol suggested for the IEC to embark on a vigorous voter education before introducing the paper ballot. He warned the current IEC Chairman against rushing the introduction of the paper just to leave a legacy. “I know what I am telling you. Nobody will teach me about elections.”
Mr Carayol said he was shocked when his successor Alieu Momarr Njai announced two different results in the 2016 election, referring to the mistake in the announcement.
“You cannot make mistakes in announcing election results because if you do, the only excuse you can give is, I made a mistake, which means you are not fit to handle that post. There could have been mayhem in this country and that same man is still sitting in that chair,” he stressed.