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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Will Gambians in the diaspora exercise their franchise in 2021?

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For many years, questions have been asked about the rights of the Gambians in the diaspora to have the ability to exercise their franchise and vote in elections of the Gambia regardless of where they may be.

Most countries in the world have now made arrangements to ensure that when it is time for elections all their citizens are allowed to vote, wherever they might be. The Gambians in the diaspora have also been agitating for this for some time now.

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Everyone in the country, including and particularly, the political class has repeatedly acknowledged the overwhelming contribution of the diasporans to the development of the country. They remit millions of dalasis back home which helps in the upkeep of their people and therefore maintain the peace and stability of the country.

But in the struggle to defenestrate former president Yahya Jammeh, Gambians in the diaspora proved beyond reasonable doubt that they do not only belong to this country but that they love it as well.

The diaspora Gambia contributed financially, morally and in so many other ways to the removal of the former regime which was seen by many as being repressive in nature. It strangled the citizens and stifled the press.

Having fought so hard to bring about the change that the country is enjoying today, it is not a surprise that many of them want to be given the opportunity to exercise their franchise.

In fact, some countries have made their nationals in the diaspora a constituent which has to be represented in the House of Representatives. It is high time that the Gambia had a diaspora representative in the National Assembly protecting their rights.

Perhaps the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) will work with the National Assembly and other relevant stakeholders to make sure that this is introduced before the next cycle of elections in the country.

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