By Yankuba Jallow
Dr Ismaila Ceesay, the presidential candidate for the Citizens’ Alliance (CA) party has called on the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to extend the period of voter registration beyond six weeks to enable many eligible voters to register.
Dr Ceesay was speaking to the press on Friday morning during his usual monthly press briefing. He said the period scheduled for voter registration by the IEC is short, adding that his party is monitoring the registration process adding they made some observations.
“We are strongly urging the IEC to extend the window of registration beyond 11 July. It is not possible to register all those they want to register within this short period. With all the challenges that are happening, in order not to disenfranchise any Gambian, I think the IEC needs to extend the duration beyond the six weeks,” he said.
The political science lecturer said his party has deployed over a hundred volunteers to observe the voter registration process, noting that the gap between the female as opposed to male is huge. He thus said there is a need to encourage men to register, while saying the number of people registering is dropping which is a cause for concern.
“For it to be a good election, we need to get as many people as possible to register,” he said.
Dr Ceesay cited the North Bank Region where he said people are preparing their farms for the rainy season and this could be the reason why there is a drop in the number of registered voters in that region.
Also, he said long queues is a general challenge confronting the registration process as it sometimes discourages people from registering, citing farm workers and market women as examples. He observed that IEC closes early which is not favourable to civil and public servants who close from work at 4 pm. He said this category of people usually get home at 5 pm which means they cannot register because the registration centres close at 5 pm.
CA leader challenged the Government to fight corruption saying it has a long-lasting impact on the people. He urged the Government to expedite the establishment of an Anti-Corruption Commission to deal with the alleged increasing corruption in the country.
Ceesay said while in Germany, he visited agricultural farms, dairy products where value addition takes place with cows and cow milk. He said CA intends to use agriculture to promote manufacturing to enhance production, create job opportunities and lessen dependence on food aid.
According to him, in 2050, The Gambia will have 5 million people, thus there is a greater need to plan for the future of the country. He stressed that his party would ensure there is energy security in the country, especially green energy supply. As well as food security
“Our drive is to shift The Gambia from subsistence agriculture to large scale and commercial agriculture,” he said.
He informed the press that he visited and had face to face discussion with Gambian migrants as well as the German authorities. He said Germany has a policy of deportation which according to Ceesay is not favourable to The Gambia, saying the country is not ready to receive migrants back into the society. He said his party would promote a policy of integration and that a CA Government would invest in young people.