Friday, September 17, 2021

Banjul North NAM Asks Assembly to Address Diaspora Voting

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By Makutu Manneh

Ousman Sillah, National Assembly Member (NAM) for Banjul North has asked his colleagues to address diaspora voting for the forthcoming December election in the next ordinary session of the National Assembly.

Mr. Sillah said the next session could be convenient to deal with issues such as allocating resources to the IEC to register Gambians in the diaspora.

The Banjul North deputy said the franchise provision in the Gambia’s constitution is enough to allow Gambians in the diaspora to be registered and be voted for. He further added that the constitutional provision on the right to vote and be voted is enough for them to compel the IEC to make provision for them to start the process of registering Gambians in the diaspora so that they can vote in the countries they are residing.

“Even if it requires the assembly encouraging the executive to come up with a supplementary appropriation bill to provide for the resources,” he said. “Gambians in the diaspora deserve to participate in the electoral process of this country.”

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Sillah said Gambians outside the country have the right to decide who they want to be entrusted with the mandate of presidency in their country. Thus, he implored the executive and National Assembly Members to speak out in order to start the process of diaspora registration, arguing it is not late.

To him, there is no excuse as far as he is concerned. He added other countries are doing it, and asked why The Gambia should be an exception.

“If it is resources, we can allocate it. If it is the law, it has already been provided for,” he said.

Madi Mk. Ceesay, NAM for Serekunda West, said it is unfortunate that Gambians living outside the country are unable to vote in the country’s elections.

“There should be no obstacle to giving them a chance to participate in our election,” he said.

He said denying diaspora Gambians from voting is denying them their constitutional right.

Mr. Ceesay said for 56 years, Gambians in the diaspora have never voted in the country’s elections. He thus questioned the commitment and seriousness of the government in allowing the people in the diaspora to vote.

He urged Barrow’s administration to make all efforts to give diaspora Gambians the opportunity to participate in the country’s elections.

The two NAMs made these comments on Tuesday 6th July 2021 during the Assembly’s adjournment debate.

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