By Almamo Kamaso
The Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Immanuel Joof calls for the importation of 50 percent plus one as part of 2021 Election Bill. He opined that since the draft constitution is thrown out some of the progressive sections can be imported.
However the Co-Chair of the joint committee at the time nominated member Yakumba Jaiteh , referred the NHRC Chair to section 48 (3) of the 1997 constitution which said No person shall elected as President on a first ballot unless he or she receives the highest number of votes validly cast at the election. This she said would be a contravention of the constitution. So what we have is a simple majority.
The Chairman of the Commission was speaking at the National Assembly Tuesday at the invitation of the joint committees of the Regional Government, Lands, Ombudsman and IEC, and Human Right and Constitutional Matters, to get their take on the 2021 Election Bill.
The NHRC boss told members among other things that they want to see in the Bill is access to ball boxes by persons living with disabilities. Chairman Joof argued that it is not enough to say those who have challenges in seeing or who are with other forms of disabilities must request for help but rather the law should make it a right to access the ballot boxes. “We must not wait for them to request but rather it should be made available “ Joof said.
The Human Right lawyrer said the ballot boxes should be friendly to make it easy for people with sight issues to easily identify candidates of their choices without help.
Nominated member Ndey Yassin Secka , applauded that idea and gave a clear example as how some of them are fooled by people they trusted for help whiles they cast their ballot tokens. She explained a scenario where at one of the past elections she asked for help; but never wanted the helper to know which candidate she voted for. She told the helper to tell her the line-up of ballot boxes by numbers and then ask the person to go out; only to call the helper again to confirm who did he say was the number one and the helper give a different name from the first one he gave her. Ndey said if the IEC buys the NHRC idea of have some kind of a brail that will help a lot blind persons.
Commenting on the right of prisoners to be registered and to take part in voting, Joof said it is a right that should not be taken from them. Section 39 (1) of the 1997 constitution and Clause 13 (2) of the 2021 Election Bills are all clear about who can be registered. The two are saying every citizen of the Gambian being eighteen years or older of sound mind shall have the right to vote. Here the Human Right lawyer said nothing should stop the IEC registering people in prisons if they are Gambians.
NHRC Chair Call for an Importation of 50% plus 1
By Almamo Kamaso