Monday, May 17, 2021
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Justice Minister Refutes IEC Allegations over Diaspora Voting

By Almamo Kamaso
The Minister of Justice Dawda A Jallow refutes allegations levied against his ministry over the amendment of section 39 sub-section 1 of the 1997 constitution, which blocks diaspora voting. The IEC earlier told lawmakers that they have brought the attention of the ministry of Justice to section 39 (1) but yet little did they do about its amendments.
Justice Jallow appearing before a joint committee of law makers comprising of the Regional Government and Lands, Ombudsman and IEC and the Human Right and Constitutional Matters Committees yesterday refutes IEC’s allegation and said it was his ministry who flagged the challenge for the IEC.
After a brief over view of the Election Bill 2021 with references to the parent Election Act and the 1997 constitution, Minister Jallow whiles answering questions from the members of the Committee told the law makers that, it was his ministry who flagged section 39 (1) to the body responsible for conducting elections in the country the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
section 39 (1) of the 1997 constitution, which reads: Every citizen of the Gambia being eighteen years of or older and of sound mind shall have the right to vote for a purpose of election of a President and members of the National Assembly, and shall be entitled to be registered as a voter in a National Assembly constituency for that purpose.
Justice minister said they told the IEC that for the diaspora to vote they needed to be registered and that section 39 (1) is a challenged , so for the IEC to say they told them the ministry of Justice a long time the need for an Amendment is surprising.
The Justice Minister went further to say in fact the said section is an entrenched section which cannot be amended without going for a referendum. And that makes the whole thing more challenging.
The issue of removing the five elderly people as those who can also attest to citizenship is something that he has no answer less he consults. The parent Act has among means to attest for those who are undocumented citizens, plus Aikalolous and Seyfos but the new Election Bill did not have , and that is all the reason why law makers are asking for explanations.
The committee continues its scrutiny of the Bill today with the Independent Electoral Commission, before the joint committee go country wide with public hearings.

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