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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Political scientist accuses IEC of partiality

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By Tabora Bojang

Political science lecturer Essa Njie has accused the Independent Electoral Commission of being selective in its application of the Elections Act by failing to hold the ruling National People’s Party to account over its failure to hold a congress since its inception in December 2019.

Njie told The Standard yesterday: “The IEC is encouraging or conniving with the NPP to do broad daylight robbery in our democracy. Just recently, the IEC was reminding all parties to hold their congress. We heard that UDP and APRC will hold their congress in December but the NPP has not even talked about holding a congress in December. Is this going to be three years since the NPP was created and it is going to be in blatant violation of the Elections Act without the IEC taking any steps? The commission is merely encouraging impunity by ensuring that laws are violated without anything coming out of it, especially when it has to do with the NPP and if pressure is not mounted on them to ensure that the NPP abides by the Elections Act then it is not only putting the IEC’s credibility into question but it is also putting our democracy at risks in terms of reverting to autocracy.”

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Njie said the IEC suspended the National Convention Party, the National Democratic Alliance Movement and the Gambia Democratic Party in the past for failing to hold a congress under the Elections Act.

“Therefore, I see no reason why the commission would consider the NPP which is yet to convene a congress three years into existence a sacred cow. The credibility of the IEC will remain in question as long as it allows the blatant violation of the Elections Act by the ruling party. It shows that we have still not departed from the Jammeh era of impunity where laws are willfully violated. Rights groups like R2K and DUGA wrote to the IEC in April 2022 to remind them about the ruling party’s violation of the Elections Act but the IEC turned a blind eye and what is even disheartening is that the IEC through its commissioners or the director of communications blatantly refused to talk to journalists about this day light violation of the Election Act by the NPP. So, the commission including its chairman has failed Gambians when it comes to ensuring that our democracy is strengthened by upholding election rules. In fact, the opposition parties and the civil society organisations should have tested the strength of our judiciary by challenging the grounds upon which the elected NPP NAMs were elected because they contested under a party that was in violation of the Elections Act by refusing to hold congress after two years of existence,” Njie who holds a double master’s degree in human rights and democratisation in Africa as well as security and leadership studies stated.

“This is shameful. The IEC should go back and put their house in order.

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