By Omar Bah
The Independent Electoral Commission has explained the delay in announcing the full results of the 4th December presidential elections, saying it needed adequate time to rigorously vet and compute the figures to avoid announcing wrong results. It also cited the late closure of voting in Sukuta and other places as another reason, for the delayed broadcasts.
The IEC came under a barrage of criticisms, especially from supporters of the defeated UDP for the inordinate delay in announcing the full results.
But speaking to The Standard on the issue yesterday, Pa Makan Khan, IEC director of communication, said after the debacle that ensued from announcing two results for the 2016 presidential election, they did not want to leave anything to chance.
“Some people called it delay but I will call it a natural process of reporting because results are key in determining the outcome of an election. The other reason is that normally voting ends at 5pm but in some areas like Sukuta due to the number of people who were in the queues voting went on until 10pm.
“Then the results had to go through a process from the counting centre at the polling station to the collation centre and then to the Election House for final vetting. So the delay was to avoid what happened in 2016 which was as a result of the rush caused by political pressure. We know some Gambians are not happy with us but I can assure you that it was all meant to get things right,” he said.
On the general recommendation for the commission to urgently appoint a legal adviser, Mr Khan said the matter “will be considered”.
But when asked whether commission chairman Alieu Momarr Njai would not be stepping down immediately given his strained effort in clearly enunciating words while reading the poll results, Khan retorted: “The chairman is appointed by the president and he has a mandate to serve and I think his mandate expires in 2023 or so. I can say that the chairman is doing his job well despite criticism of his age.”
CA, GMC litigations
Commenting on the suits instituted by CA and GDC parties against the IEC over the disqualifications of their candidates in last week’s election, Mr Khan said the commission had adhered to the court rulings by allowing them to submit supplementary voter cards but that they failed to meet the requirements.
“In fact, CA refused to comply with the court’s instruction for them to present to the IEC the documents they submitted in court. They submitted something completely different and for the GMC, they submitted but it was still short of the 200 requirement,” Khan explained. However, he said, the commission has appealed the rulings against them.
Rejection of results
Commenting on claims by some opposition elements that the election was rigged in favour of Barrow, Mr Khan said the results published by the IEC “are perfect and accurate.
“However, if any political party feels unsatisfied about it they have the right to take whatever action in a court of law but we have delivered one of the most transparent, credible and fair presidential elections in the history of The Gambia,” Khan said.