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Friday, September 22, 2023

UDP NAM tells Barrow: disenfranchise diasporans at your peril


By Tabora Bojang

The National Assembly Member for Serekunda West has warned the government against disenfranchising Gambians abroad in the upcoming elections, saying they are a vital constituency.

Madi Ceesay, a UDP lawmaker accused the Barrow government of showing tepid interest reforming the electoral laws that would enable Gambians abroad take part in the elections because they are perceived as opposition sympathisers.

Finance minister Mambury Njie told parliament last month that the participation of Gambians in the diaspora in the upcoming elections will require a supplementary bill because diaspora voting was not catered for in the 2021 budget.

“If [it is just] money [that] is their problem, then what is stopping government from bringing a supplementary appropriation bill to the National Assembly? Ceesay charged.

“The diasporans are Gambians and in fact the 1997 Constitution never excluded them from taking part in the elections. It is just the lack of commitment on the side of the government and this is surely going to backfire at Barrow. Barrow should have made changes, and do things differently from Yahya Jammeh. For over two decade our people have been denied their constitutional rights and we expect that when a new government comes, it will swiftly make changes by making it possible for our brothers and sisters overseas to participate in our elections. That would have given the government good credit,” he cautioned.

Mr Ceesay, who is also the publisher of Daily News newspaper, said President Barrow should be aware of the law of unintended consequences because “every Gambian in the diaspora has more than 100 people that they can influence back home to vote against Barrow if they are denied franchise”. 

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