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Friday, September 24, 2021

Stop mayor giving attestations, nullify voter’s cards Gambia Participates petitions IEC

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Gambia Participates, a civil society organisation working on enhancing transparency and accountability in the public sector, has petitioned the electoral commission to stop the mayor of Banjul giving any further voter registration attestations and nullify all voting cards issued on the basis of attestations from her.

The petition dated 10 June and signed by the executive director Marr Nyang and councillor for Banjul’s Box Bar Ward Aziz Dabakh Gaye, stated: “It has come to our attention that the Mayor of Banjul has been giving attestations for the purposes of the ongoing voter registration which commenced on the May, 2021. It has also been established that the Independent Elections Commission (IEC) has issued and continue to issue attestation forms to several individuals who have obtained attestations from the Mayor of Banjul.

“The Mayor of Banjul has also confirmed in the public media that she was duly authorised by the IEC to give attestations for the

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purposes of the ongoing general registration.

“As concerned citizens of The Gambia, we wish to draw the attention of the commission to the Elections Decree 1996 as amended by the Elections (Amendment) Act 2001, which is reproduced below for ease of reference:

Qualifications for Registration

12(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), a person’s name shall not be entered on a register of voters in a

constituency unless he produces any one of the following documents-

(a) a birth certificate,

(b) a Gambian passport,

(c) a National Identity Card, or

(d) a document certified by five elders residing in the

place of birth of the applicant stating that the applicant was born in that place.

Section 12 – Qualifications for registration

(a) In subsection (2) –

(i) delete the word “or” at the end of paragraph ©, and

(ii) substitute for paragraph (d), the following new paragraphs –

 “(d) a document certified by five elders that the applicant is a citizen of The Gambia;

or

(e) a document certified by the District Seyfo or an Alkalo of the Village of birth of the

applicant stating that the applicant was born in the District or

Village.”

“Therefore section 12(2) of Election Decree as amended, clearly stipulates that only a document certified by the district seyfo or an alkalo can be used as proof of citizenship for the purpose of voter

registration. Furthermore, it is pertinent to reiterate the purpose of the attestation is to confirm that the applicant is born in the district or village and that the authority granting the attestation is in a position to attest to this factually.

The city of Banjul neither has an alkalo or district seyfo, neither is Banjul a village or district. We are therefore of the firm view that based on the law, attestations given by the Mayor of Banjul for the

purposes of obtaining a voters card are not valid and should not be accepted by the IEC. The law is very clear and unambiguous about who is authorised to issue attestations – alkalo and district seyfo. The

Mayor of Banjul, in the circumstances has no legal authority or power to issue attestations for the purposes of voter registration and the IEC should not issue any voters card based on the Mayor’s

attestation. We demand the IEC to do the following forthwith:

1. Immediately desist from providing voter registration attestation forms in Banjul

2. Advise the Mayor of Banjul from giving any further voter registration attestations

3. Nullify all voting cards issued on the basis of attestations from the Mayor of Banjul

“As an independent institution established by the constitution and governed by the laws of The Gambia, we expect the IEC to conduct itself within the strict confines of the law. The law as it stands only

provides that only an alkalo or district seyfo can provide an attestation for the purposes of voter registration. The law therefore excludes any other person other than an alkalo or district seyfo from

granting attestation for the purposes of voter registration. The IEC cannot in the circumstances grant the mayor the power or authority to give attestation unless it is mandated by the law. We trust the IEC

will respect and uphold the law given its constitutionally mandated responsibility as the body responsible for conducting elections.”

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