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Saturday, June 19, 2021

UDP MEETS IEC OVER DIASPORA VOTING

By Omar Bah

A UDP delegation led by its spokesperson, Almami Taal, Wednesday met IEC senior officials over diaspora voting.

Gambians living in the country have started acquiring voter’s cards ahead of the December presidential election.

But chances of registering the Diaspora community, estimated at over 200,000, appear  slim, as the IEC says the constitution must be amended before franchise can be extended to the diaspora.

“We told them that they probably need to get legal advice because as we are speaking they are not complying with what the Supreme Court had clearly established in the Bakary Dabo and others case, that all Gambians who meet the required age are eligible to be registered and vote,” Taal told The Standard yesterday evening.

He said the UDP team has urged the IEC to “operate based on the Constitution and laws of The Gambia”.

“They should consider the decision of the Supreme Court because litigations are time-consuming and it may delay a lot of basic rights enjoyments. We advised them to put in place streamlined processes and procedures to ensure that everything they do is based on rules and regulations governing elections,” Taal said.

He said the UDP delegation had also requested access to the IEC laws, regulations, and rules regarding agents and registration centres.

“We also extended our concerns over IEC officials’ refusal to allow our agents to register details of those who are registered. We demand the commission to provide proper sitting arrangements so that our agents will be able to see the details of those who are registered,” he said.

Latrikunda alkalo

Taal, a former high court judge said they have also raised the issue of the Latrikunda Yiri Nganya alkalo who allegedly provides  attestation for anyone he accepts to be a Gambian regardless of whether one is born or resident in Latrikunda. “You can come from Basse but if you are a Gambian he would issue you an alkalo’s certificate because he doesn’t want to disenfranchise any genuine Gambian. This is contrary to the law. It is not for the alkalo to determine who is a Gambian or not”.

Taal said the IEC agreed with their submission that what the alkalo does “is incorrect” and that if litigation ensued, the onus will be on him to defend.  

Rawdatul Majaalis

In a separate development, a delegation of Rawdatul Majaalis members yesterday paid a courtesy call on the UDP leader Ousainu Darboe.

Taal said the delegation went to express concerns about “insults they are receiving from other Islamic groupings including the Supreme Islamic Council”.

“The visit was more of a courtesy call and to express support and prayers to Ousainu Darboe as a son of Majaalis. They also want to visit other political parties and community leaders,” he said.

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