By Omar Bah
Alieu Momarr Njai, chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, has revealed that the commission will decide either to extend the six-month suspension of the National Convention Party or deregister it altogether.
Speaking to this paper at his Serekunda residence yesterday, Chairman Njai noted: “We have given them six months to put their house in order. If they failed to come together, we will decide to either extend the suspension or deregister the party once and for all.”
The chairman’s postulation followed the commission’s announcement on Friday of the suspension of the party from all electoral activities.
“The suspension is caused by the fact that they [NCP] failed to hold one unified party congress but held two different party congresses and has announced two party leaders. The decision to suspend the NCP is sourced from Section b 127 of the Elections Act,” the letter signed by the commission chairman read.
Asked to dilate on the matter yesterday, Njai said when the commission received two different letters from the two factions of the NCP executive, they tried many times to bring them together, adding “I even told them at one point that they owe it to Sheriff Dibba [the party’s founder, to come together] but they refused to listen.”
He said if the splinter group was outside of the NCP current executive registered with the IEC, “it would have been a different issue altogether, but these are the people who are listed in our records as members of the NCP executive committee and there is no way that we can have two NCPs in this country.”
“We called all the camps and talked to them to come together and also warned them that according to the laws of the IEC they could be suspended, but to no avail. This is why when we knew there will be two different congresses we decided not to be witness to any of them because that was inconsistent with the law,” he added.
Majanko Samusa who leads one of the factions, claimed that he was elected party leader following the resignation by Dr Bolong Bojang as party leader when he lost the Coalition election primaries to Adama Barrow in 2016.
But according to the IEC chairman, Majanko Samusa may have been the leader of the party during the political impasse but that did not require him to form a separate executive.
Asked whether President Barrow was meddling in the issue, Njai replied: “The president did not interfere and I don’t think he will interfere with matters of the IEC. The only thing he can do is try to get the NCP to come together for them to have one congress because as far as we are concerned they should not take part in any political activity until they have a proper congress.”
The internecine war in the party is between Majanko Samusa and Yaya Sanyang’s camps.
The once dominant opposition party, established in 1975, has been relegated to the fringes of Gambian politics. Its founder, the late Sheriff Dibba, served as vice president under Jawara and speaker of the National Assembly under Jammeh.
Samusa and Sanyang were not available for immediate comment by the time we went to press.