By Omar Bah
The Independent Electoral Commission has denied opposition UDP’s claims that it illegally registered people outside the official general voter registration period.
The opposition UDP on Friday accused the IEC of “monumental illegal” registration of voters in complicity with President Barrow’s NPP.
Reacting to the allegations in an exclusive with The Standard, IEC Chairman Alieu Momarr Njai, said: “Registering people after the registration period. Where? How can you say A and B are registering people after the registration period? How is that possible? Because immediately after the closure of registration all the materials are sent back to head office. That is not possible.”
He added: “When the voter registration started, we announced it and ensured that the parties had their agents at all the registration centres and after the registration, we pasted all the registered voters list in an open place but there were no complaints. How could they wait until now and start saying people were registered after the registration period? That doesn’t make sense. How can you be out there and see people being registered outside of the registration period and you accept it? If they have proof, let them bring it out. Let me see it.”
People registered under three minutes
Chairman Njai said the party’s claim that people were registered under three minutes is “ridiculous”.
“How is that possible? How could anyone just get up and give somebody a voter’s card without taking him through the verification process. It doesn’t make sense,” he said.
The IEC chairman said Gambian elections cannot be rigged. “Nobody can rig elections in this country. You see, people should know that the whole IEC from myself down to the gardeners we are just about 72 people and we engage over 6000 people. We cannot be everywhere. This is why we impress on the political parties to always send their people to monitor the process and during the last election we did not receive a single complaint,” he added.
Speaking earlier to The Standard, the IEC communications director, Pa Makan Khan, said: “I have to say that the commission is only focused on conducting credible elections for the Gambian people and right now all our energy is focused on that. I don’t think we should be distracted doing our mandate.” Pressed on whether it is not prudent for IEC’s own credibility to clear the air, Khan said: “I think we have gone past this because all these issues raised should have been dealt with by institutions – the revising courts happened and there was a court case. Why should we respond now? I think this is just a distraction so I will not respond to any of this. That’s my reaction to your opinion. That’s your opinion. That is history; now we are moving on.”