By Omar Bah
The chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission has clarified that his current tenure will end in 2023 and not August 2020 as suggested by some officials of political parties.
Alieu Momarr Njai’s tenure has been a subject of debate recently with some party officials, including UDP’s Almami Taal suggesting his time was up.
The UDP spokesman has claimed that the entire Independent Electoral Commission’s members have served their mandate,
adding that constitutional institutions like the IEC would make people very concerned if they don’t have their leadership renewed to conform with the demands and the needs of the time.
“We are extremely concerned about this dereliction of duty and oversight. If parliament had sufficient resources and autonomy to exercise oversight over all these institutions, it should make sure that whenever a term or mandate expires it should make sure that whatever the law says is applied,” Taal had said.
Taal added that a country that is moving away from dictatorship needs to do a real audit of the health of “your democracy to make sure that you can prevent a lot of mishaps or a lot of authoritarian tendencies”.
But talking to The Standard, the IEC chairman said his current term will only expire in 2023 after which he will not be able to serve as chairman again because he would have been left with only two years to complete his 14-year two-term tenure at the Election House.
Chairman Njai clarified with documentary proof that he was first appointed as IEC member in late 2006 but in April 2007, he resigned from the position following his appointment as acting Mayor of Kanifing Municipal Council.
He was reappointed as commission member again in March 2011, before going on to replace Mustapha Carayol on 7 April 2016 as chairman of the IEC for an initial period of seven years.
“That 7 years will expire in 2023,” he clarified showing his appointment letter dated April 2016.
Chairman Njai confirmed that the terms of three other commissioners have not also expired and they will be there at least until after the 2021 presidential election.
On the retirement of his deputy Malleh Sallah, Mr Njai said Mr Sallah’s term has expired and it is now up to the president to appoint his replacement.
Speaking on the upcoming elections, Chairman Njai assured Gambians of free and fair elections under his watch, arguing that the electoral commission has all the expertise and capabilities to deliver a credible election in 2021.
“If Yahya Jammeh could not manage to force me to rig the 2016 election for him, nobody can make me do so in this country. Gambians can be assured of a very transparent and credible election. There is no doubt about that,” he concluded.