Speaking in an interview with The Standard, United Democratic Party spokesman said the long talked-about enfranchisement of Gambians abroad must be a reality this time round.
“The Gambia should take cue from neighboring countries such as Guinea Bissau and Senegal which have organised successive successful elections with the participation of their diaspora constituents.
“If it can be happening in Senegal, Guinea…almost all the countries. It can happen also in The Gambia but only if we prioritise it and discuss it now because time is going and it is extremely important that these mechanisms are put in place to ensure that the Gambian diaspora votes. They must not only vote but also participate and be represented in the national life of the country, considering the huge contribution they make to the country,” Almamy Fanding Taal explained.
Mr Taal said UDP wonders the whereabouts of a much-touted bill that was supposed to pave way for diaspora Gambians to vote.
“We were told the draft bill will be sent to the National Assembly but for some reasons, I have not seen it in the Order Paper,” UDP spokesman said. “It is the responsibility of the state law office to draft a law, providing framework for diaspora to participate in national elections,” he stressed.
”I think what we need to focus on is to have the law changed so that a different arrangement could be put in effect, either through their passports or through our embassies where they can have IEC officials sent to conduct registrations. Obviously, this will require political party representatives’ involvement too. But the starting point is for the electoral law of the country to recognize them as a significant constituency, as a significant contributor to the GDP of The Gambia but most importantly as citizens of the country. As long as they are citizens, it is the responsibility of the government of the day to enable them to exercise their basic civic rights.”
Gambian migration compiled by Cherno Omar Kebbeh, a Gambian economist based in Washington DC, some 140,000 Gambians live in various countries across the globe in 2019, majority of them of voting age.