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Pressure group accuses IEC of inaction over electoral violations

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By Tabora Bojang

The “Coalition of Progressives” has accused the Independent Electoral Commission of failing to act against politics of inducement, ethnic bating, illegal voter registration and participation of foreigners in Gambian elections.

In a statement shared with The Standard signed by its chairman Seedy Cham, the coalition said it is concerned that despite several evidences and allegations of electoral frauds by the ruling National Peoples Party in the presidential, National Assembly and the just concluded local government elections, the electoral body IEC has failed to act on such blatant electoral frauds with no commitment to remedy the situation.

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“It is an open secret that the ruling party sought and continues to seek to unduly influence the electorate by giving out inducements in the form of food items like rice, sugar, cooking oils and other commodities around or on the eve of election. There is also the intimidation of electorates by civil servants and alkalolu.

A very clear example is what transpired between Presidential Advisor Dou Sanno and alkalo of Sare Talata in URR and the violence meted against an opposition party supporter during that incident. The alleged buying of votes by NPP supporters in both Banjul and Brikama Jalangbang as shown on social media was a clear indication of electoral malpractice. This is a criminal act in accordance with the electoral laws, which are habitually violated by the ruling party, NPP.”

According to the group, these acts make a mockery of the principle of fairness in the electoral law and grossly distort the playing field at the expense of the opposition.

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It warned that such practices have serious implications on the future of Gambia’s nascent democracy.

“We are concerned that The IEC has been very passive if not out rightly inadequate in their response to these infringements on our electoral laws. The integrity of our electoral system should be sacrosanct and inviolable. It must equally ensure that all political parties are treated equally and fairly in both the letter and spirit of our laws. It appears the IEC through inability, ignorance, outright lack of will, or a combination of all of the aforementioned continues to allow the blatant violation of the electoral laws, mainly by the ruling party. The IEC cannot continue to do business as usual. It must rise to the occasion by instituting the necessary reforms in our electoral laws and infrastructure. This is very important, for sustainable peace and stability cannot be achieved in the absence of an electoral process that is not only free and fair but seen and accepted by the citizenry to be free and fair. We therefore urge the IEC to take full responsibility of its constitutional mandate to ensure that the electoral laws are upheld for the sake of impartiality, credibility and transparency in all future elections,” the group said.

 The IEC Director of Communications Pa Makan Khan when contacted on these allegations said he is not aware of any such communications. “In any case the IEC does not comment on opinions made in the media,” he said.

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