By Omar Bah
Gambia Moral Congress leader Mai Fatty has denied rumours that he is being used by President Adama Barrow to put the spanner in the works and derail this weekend’s presidential election.
On Saturday, Fatty announced he will contest the December polls after the Banjul High Court ruled that the electoral commission erred in law and in practice in rejecting his nomination.
Fatty was one of 15 aspirants whose nominations were rejected. One of the rejected aspirants, Dr Ismaila Ceesay, took the matter to court which ruled in his favour but the IEC said it would not allow him to contest the election.
Begrudging, Dr Ceesay said he will drop out of the race as it is too late and for the sake of peace.
But Mai Fatty has affirmed that he will contest the polls even though many analysts believe the IEC will slap him with the same dose of rejection served Dr Ceesay. This could lead to a potential standoff and chaos.
But reacting in a Standard exclusive to these concerns, Fatty said: “The allegations are peddled by enemies, and the truth shall prevail. If the polls are to be postponed, that will not violate any law in this country. There is still time left prescribed by law. It is a decision to be made by the IEC and will not cause any harm.
“Rather, if my right and those of thousands of my supporters are scuttled by our exclusion from the electoral and electioneering process via adversely self-induced actions of the IEC, then a dangerous precedent would be set. The consequences are far-reaching beyond my generation, in that it would settle the futility of courts and establish impunity. This is not conceivable in a democratic society.”
Fatty argued that the entire federal might of the United States government was extraordinarily invoked in the case of Brown vs Board of Education in 1954.
“The US government sent troops, invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to enforce the right of one young girl’s right to education against discrimination. Unless one believes our courts are toothless bulldogs, then our rights would not be enforced. If such enforcement, in consequence, may lead to a postponement, so be it. The IEC is to be held accountable and no one else,” he said.
Fatty said GMC presented its nomination papers at the same time as those campaigning now.
“We were rejected. We challenged the rejection in court, and it was reversed for fatal non-compliance with the Elections Act. Was it our fault that the IEC violated its own Act and guidelines it claimed was given to candidates? Is it wrong for a citizen whose entrenched rights are violated by an institution created by law, and whose staff are paid from the consolidated fund, to seek redress for protection? Is the IEC above the law?” Fatty queried.
On whether the GMC has been cleared to start campaigning, Fatty responded: “We have secured an order of the court mandating the IEC to grant us equal opportunities granted to others on all the electoral and electioneering processes leading to the election. If this is vitiated in any manner before elections, it would cause irreparable harm and injustice to our rights under Section 26 of the Constitution. No amount of damages or compensation can cure that irreparable injury.
“If there exist any complexities, it is for the IEC to resolve that. If the IEC treats the courts with disdain, that is a matter for the courts to resolve. I know even the presidency and legislature complied with the courts in the Ya-Kumba Jaiteh case. The IEC is not above the law,” he stressed.
He added: “You cannot conduct fair elections if you intentionally employ all manner of tactics to exclude and to frustrate a sizeable segment of the population from enjoying the right to elect their chosen candidate. You cannot organise free elections if you intentionally discriminate among candidates by denying others similar opportunities accorded to others. That is unconstitutional and must not be permitted to survive.
“There have been so many serious missteps that appear more than coincidental. There are serious reasons to be concerned. However, I am optimistic that the actual voting and counting may not be compromised. Yet if the processes leading towards an election are not free or fair, the result of such an election cannot be deemed credible.”