By Omar Bah
The Independent Electoral Commission has upheld its decision to disqualify the APRC candidate, Pa Amadou Suso for the upcoming chairmanship election in URR, the commission’s Communication Officer Joseph Colley has told The Standard yesterday.
According to the IEC spokesman, the decision to disqualify Suso came after an appeal was filed by one Boido A. Baldeh of Basse Mansajang and not necessarily the one filed by the GDC.
Boido Baldeh filed an appeal against Suso under section 49 of the Election Act and section 17 subsection 3 of the Local Government Act, respectively, for the said candidate to be disqualified backed by evidence of the judgment of the court which sentenced Suso, Mr Colley said.
Colley said the IEC did not rely on the petition filed by the Gambia Democratic Congress because that was not done in accordance with the requirement of the electoral laws.
On whether the appeal was addressed rightly, Mr Colley said the one filed by Boido Baldeh was addressed to the IEC office in Basse Mansajang Kunda as opposed to what the APRC are claiming.
At that juncture Mr Colley produced both the judgment that showed the sentencing of Pa Amadou Suso to imprisonment by the Basse Magistrate Court and the appeal filed by Boido Baldeh addressed to the IEC Office in Mansajang Kunda for The Standard to verify.
“You see the section that the APRC is arguing did say categorically that a person is not qualified to be elected or nominated as a member of a council if he or she has been sentenced to death or imprisonment…It does not necessarily say that person has to be put in jail,” he clarified.
He said before coming to their decision, the IEC had exhausted all the necessary findings regarding the matter.
“We have nothing against the APRC or any other political party. But in this case I want to make it categorically clear that we are ready to defend our decision at any court of law when the need arises,” he concluded.
The APRC had argued that the law disqualifying a candidate categorically states that such a person must have been sent to jail or served an imprisonment of some sort and not just a conviction or fine as indicated in the GDC petition.
Secondly according to the APRC, the very petition letter must be first addressed to the returning officer of the area concerned—in this case the retuning officer of the Basse Area Council—and not the IEC headquarters as it has happened in this case. But as it happened, the IEC has clarified that they relied on Boio Baldeh’s petition which was properly addressed to the IEC in Basse and provided evidence in conformity with the laws.