By Tabora Bojang
The Independent Electoral Commission yesterday dismissed allegations raised by presidential aspirant Ebrima Tabora Manneh about his inability to register his People’s Alliance Party, PAP.
Manneh 50, son of the late chief and business magnate Alhaji Tabora Manneh, announced in May 2021 his intention to challenge President Barrow in the December elections.
But Manneh’s efforts to register his party and run under its banner were thwarted when the electoral body stated in July that the required list of voters and signatures he submitted to support the party’s registration were voided in the wake of the new voter registration. The commission instructed him to resubmit his registration with the new voter cards.
However, addressing journalists at a press conference on Tuesday, Mr Manneh said the tardiness of the commission in registering his party has compelled him to contest the presidency as an independent candidate.
But reacting to this claim, IEC chief electoral officer Sambujang Njie rebutted: “He is making allegations and we are used to those allegations. When he first submitted for registration we said we have nullified the existing register and he went out to the public to say we refused him and that was not the case. So after the completion of the voter registration he also filed for another registration then we were processing the register at the revising courts and we cannot check his nomination when the register is not being completed.”
Njie also refuted Mr Manneh’s claims that the IEC refused to respond to him when he wrote to them asking for the requirements enabling one to stand as an independent candidate.
“Such claims do not hold water because the candidate had already collected the nomination package which includes the requirements of an independent candidate. Everything is in that package. How can he ask for the requirement of an independent candidate when he has already collected the nomination package and went to collect signatures?”
“He wants us to use a register which is not affirmed by law and the law states after you compiled, you publish and after the publication, the revising magistrate signs the register. While they are signing we cannot use it. We have to wait until the process is over and the process has just finished,” Njie explained.
He said the commission expects that “people running for political offices ought to be truthful” instead of “attempting to tarnish the name of the IEC”.
The IEC director of communication Pa Khan also charged that “contrary to Mr Manneh’s allegations the commission has no ulterior motives to frustrate” PAP’s registration process.
“We [IEC] treat every application on its merit and there are procedures in doing that. The commission registered about 18 political parties in this country. Why would we deny one? As far as I know, the IEC is independent and nobody dictates its work,” Khan added.