Elections, it is often said are won before the actual voting. The process of electioneering starts with registration to campaigning culminating into polling day when the citizens would actually cast their vote.
So as Gambians eagerly await the commencement of the much delayed first important step at choosing a president and other representatives – voter registration – and with the air filled with allegations and anxiety over possible illegal registration, we call on citizens to take a serious position on this matter.
The voter cards should go to Gambians and Gambians alone, and that should be clear to all Gambians, the IEC and whoever cares.
In the past, politicians, mainly from the ruling party would abuse incumbency to intimidate alkalolu, seyfolu and other authorities to allow fraudulent registration of mainly foreigners who by that gesture alone are induced to vote for the ruling party.
This happened under the PPP and the APRC regimes. In the early 1990s the PDOIS published a voluminous book on fraudulent voter registration mainly in the KMC area where people with questionable nationality credentials were registered. The devious practice was even more glorified under Jammeh when people are mobilised from across the border and camped at various locations to register or vote in Gambian elections. In fact it is alleged that tens of thousands of suspicious voter cards were burnt at the APRC political bureau by dissident soldiers in April 2016.
The 2016 election that brought about a dramatic change of government was said to be the fairest election ever with on-the-spot counting and total absence of cross border voters. The new dispensation is also meant to concretise these gains by ensuring that the election process and the political field is clean, free and fair from A-Z.
It is therefore worrying and disappointing to hear allegations of attempts to line up non-Gambians to be given voter cards. Yes, the criteria spelled out for acquiring the cards, in some cases just a mere alkalo attestation, is very vague and prone to cheating, but every genuine Gambian must make it a point of duty to object and resist any attempt by anyone to give a foreigner our scared voter cards. The voters card matters in choosing who rules over our affairs and foreigners therefore have no business in that. The Gambia Government, the IEC and all political parties must make it a national duty to ensure that no foreigner is given a Gambian voter card. Where it is suspected, all citizens must make good use of the revising courts to raise issues with all suspected foreigners issued with a voter card.