By Omar Bah
Gambian politicians have expressed clashing opinions on whether political parties should disclose the sources of their funding to the Independent Electoral Commission.
The politicians were also divided on whether the proposed new Constitution should make provision for the President of the Republic to be a degree holder. The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) on Saturday held a consultation with political parties at the Ocean Bay Hotel in Bakau.
United Democratic Party leader, Ousainu Darboe said it is not rational for the political parties to submit their financial reports to the IEC “if the government is not giving them money”. He suggests that government should establish a ‘Democracy Fund’ to support parties.
The UDP leader also advocated for a hybrid presidential and parliamentary system, adding that a person holding dual nationality should not be allowed to contest for president and that age should not be an issue in presidential requirements.
The UDP national treasurer, Amadou Sanneh, recommend for the introduction of paper ballot and spot counting to be reinforced in the new Constitution. He also supports term limits for IEC commissioners.
GMC leader Mai Fatty, concurred with Mr Darboe that political parties should not submit their financial reports to the IEC if government is not giving them money. “No taxation without representation,” he added. “But I am of the view only Gambians must be permitted to contribute to political parties and if a Gambian wishes to contribute even a hundred million dollars he or she has the right to do so…Unless if we want to say it must not exceed a certain amount,” he added.
Fatty said the new constitution should deter non-Gambians from funding political parties, saying there should be consequences upon evidences that a political party is receiving funding from non-Gambians.
He said IEC commissioners should be subjected to public scrutiny before their appointment to eliminate political bias.
However, the leader of the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction, Fabakary Tombong Jatta, said parties should disclose their sources of funding to ensure transparency.
He said there should be no age limit for presidency and that people who hold dual citizenry should be allowed to be presidents. “…and when it comes to elections, I will prefer absolute majority.”
Pateh Baldeh of the NRP also supported term limits for presidency. He said a high school leaving certificate should be enough for one to contest for presidency.
Modou ‘MC’ Cham of the GDC said the new constitution should entrench term limits and a presidential age limit of 75 years, saying there should be no academic requirement for presidency.
Kantong Gassama of the NCP advocated for the minimum presidential academic requirement to be a university degree, saying non-Gambians should not occupy senior government positions.
Abdoulie Dibba of the PDOIS advocated for absolute majority in elections and a two-term limit for president. He said presidential age limit should begin from 18 and there should be no upper limit.
Amie Sillah of PDOIS suggested that presidential age limit should be 30 and 80 years and that the president should not establish charitable organisations but members of the First Family may do so.