Tuesday, July 27, 2021

ATTESTATION IN BANJUL: Gambia Participates Weigh In

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By Demba Bah

The Gambia Participates, a youth-led civil society organization has added its voice to the issue of attestation in Banjul. The organization, in a letter addressed to the IEC and copied to the Mayoress Office, argued that, the mandate to attest to citizenship given to the Mayoress Office in Banjul by the IEC is not in its proper legal perspective. The organization therefore, call for it to be withdrawn.

Citing the Elections Act, the organisation points out in their letter that a person’s name shall not be entered on a register of voters in a constituency unless he or she produces one of the following documents:

  • a birth certificate,
  • a Gambian passport,
  • a National Identity Card, or
  • a document certified by the District Seyfo or an Alkalo of the Village of birth of the applicant stating that the applicant was born in the District or Village._ 

Gambia Participates argued in their letter that the purpose of the attestation s to confirm that the applicant was born in the district or village and that the authority granting the attestation is in a position to attest to this factually; adding that the city of Banjul neither has an Alkalo or District Seyfo, neither is Banjul a village or district. 

Gambia Participates concluded in their letter as follows:

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“We are therefore of the firm view that based on the law, attestations given by the Mayor of Banjul for the purposes of obtaining a voters card are not valid and should not be accepted by the IEC. The law is very clear and unambiguous about who is authorised to issue attestations – Alkalo and District Seyfo. The Mayor of Banjul, in the circumstances has no legal authority or power to issue attestations for the purposes of voter registration and the IEC should not issue any voters card based on the Mayor’s attestation. We demand the IEC to do the following forthwith;

1. Immediately desist from providing voter registration attestation forms in Banjul

2. Advise the Mayor of Banjul from giving any further voter registration attestations.

3. Nullify all voting cards issued on the basis of attestations from the Mayor of Banjul 

“As an independent institution established by the constitution and governed by the laws of The Gambia, we expect the IEC to conduct itself within the strict confines of the law. The law as it stands only provides that, only an Alkalo or District Seyfo can provide an attestation for the purposes of voter registration. The law therefore excludes any other person other than an Alkalo or District Seyfo from granting attestation for the purposes of voter registration. The IEC cannot in the circumstances grant the Mayor the power or authority to give attestation unless it is mandated by the law. We trust the IEC will respect and uphold the law given its constitutionally mandated responsibility as the body responsible for conducting elections.”

It could be recalled that on Saturday, 5th June, 2021, youths in Banjul did hold a Press Conference to express their disappointment and disapproval on the way attestation was being exercised by the Mayoress’ Office, asking for the revocation of the mandate. IEC is yet to respond.

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