Politicians divided on Electoral System

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Ousainou J. Sawaneh
Politicians on were divided as what the new electoral systems should be put in place as the constitutional review commission continued their consultations. Many of the political parties are in for a paper ballot as opposed to the marbles. Many if not all also agreed that the issue of submission of party financial reports to the IEC be abolished as government do not give any subvention to the political parties.
The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) in its process of engaging the Gambian people in the constitutional review process, the on Saturday 11th May, 2019 held a dialogue with the political parties at the Ocean Bay Hotel in Bakau.
The dialogue was design to discuss issues of constitutional reform with political parties and update them on some of the preliminary submissions the CRC has received from the public.
In his submission Lawyer Ousainou Darboe UDP leader said the fact that the government is not providing funds for any party the declaration of assets by the political parties should not be in the new constitution. He also said it is not rational for the political parties to submit their financial reports to IEC, “if the government is not giving them money” he said. The party leader proposes that the IEC members should consist of representatives from civil societies.
While Fabakay Tobomg Jatta APRC leader said political parties should present their financial reports to the government for public consumption and supports marble voting system instead of ballot papers in elections, describing it as the most transparent system.
Jatta also said the parliamentary scrutiny into the IEC is very important than any other institution as they are representative by the people of the country, he added that the current dispensation of seven years of the mandate of the IEC members is very good and should be maintain in the new constitution and the declaration of assets is also needed.
In his contribution Mai Ahmed Fatty GMC leader describe the dialogue as historic adding that the third republican constitution will not only be in their presence but also the young ones coming.
Fatty said the IEC chair and its commissioners should be subjected to public scrutiny before their appointment to office.
He also argue that political parties should not submit their financial reports to the IEC if the government is not funding them adding “there is no taxation without representation” he said
Fatty suggested that the new constitution should contain biometric finger printing in elections.
Amadou Sanneh of UDP also said the declaration of assets by the political parties should not be in the new constitution, he gives an example that in the second regime, the UDP funders’ faces lot of problems.
Sanneh further said the use of ballot papers should be implemented and spot counting should be reinforced in the new constitution.
Madam Amie Sillah and Hon. Ousman Sillah both of PDOIS agree that the IEC commissioners should be appointed by a special commission and to have a term limit of ten years.
Samba Bah of GDC and John A. Mendy of GPDP both suggested that the marble system of voting should be maintain in the new constitution adding that most of the Gambians are not educated saying the introduction of another system of voting will only bring confusion during elections, they stated.
Mendy added that the current provision on the appointment of the IEC chairman should be maintain in the new constitution adding that parliament should not involved in it, saying because they are elected by their parties.
Filly Suso of NRP disagrees with the appointment of the chairman by the president adding it should be done by an independent institution.
Suso also said the voting method system should be change to ballot papers adding that if Senegal and other countries are using it, why not the Gambia, and he also agrees with the declaration of assets by the IEC before taking office and after.
Edrisa Jallow of PDOIS lamented that it is now time for the country to start using ballot paper adding that the declaration of the parties assets is part of transparency as far as the people of the country are concern.
Pateh Bah of NRP reiterated the importance of the review process while describing it as very important and calling on Gambians to participate.
Demba Sabally of GDC states that political parties funding should be liberalized “source of funding for political parties should not be the business of the government”. he said.
Sainey Jallow said the important of the IEC cannot be emphasis and they should be independent as the name stand for itself and he argue that the IEC members should not be appointed by the political parties.

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