Monday, May 17, 2021
Home Editorial Was it a Deliberate Act to Disfranchised Citizen living Abroad?

Was it a Deliberate Act to Disfranchised Citizen living Abroad?

It is very likely that our brothers and sisters living in the diaspora will not be able to take part in the coming electoral cycles. Section 39 (1) of the 1997 constitution is very clear about who can register.
It is clear that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) will carry out the May 2021 voter registration with the old electoral laws. 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.
Since the registration of voters is lined up for May 2021 and the IEC is using the existing laws automatically excludes those brother and sisters of ours in the diaspora as the 1997 constitution clearly explains that any place out of the Gambia is not considered as part of any constituency of the Gambia and by the old law such persons cannot register.
The IEC said the government of the Gambia were inform that there is a need for an amendment of section 39 (1) to enable the people living in the diaspora be registered and that information was given long, and yet the Gambia government never brought any bill in respect to amend section 39 (1).
That could have been done long since but unfortunately it was not done and now there seem to be no time enough to do that and thus our citizens living abroad are being disfranchised. The process of amendment takes time , thought the section in question is not one of those entrenched clauses but due process must follow. The process can take up to 30 days , and even if we have to start that process it will certainly have to affect our election dates.
However as the electoral Commission boss said it is not too late but we want to believe its late already. If the government is serious about getting our citizens living abroad to participate in the next election, then they have to come up with a propose amendment Bill and that has to come with a letter of urgency to the Assembly for an extra ordinary session of the Assembly.
So a serious government can fast track the process and the Assembly can then work as well on the new Election Bill, have both done and then our diaspora can take part in the process.

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