By Mustapha Jallow
The Election Watch Committee (EWC) comprising the Peace Ambassador the Gambia and other civil society organisations (CSOs) have recommended for the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to replace the use of voter’s card with the National Identity Card (ID).
The stakeholders unveiled their observation report for 2021-2022 elections cycle on the 15th December 2022.
The Gambian laws gives power to the Independent Electoral Commission to receive application for voter’s card and give out the card to eligible people based on the criteria provided by the Elections Act.
Yankuba Manjang, a member of EWC said the immigration department usually do checks including background checks on applicants for passport and national identity whereas the scrutiny for the voter’s card is not as the former two. Manjang said it is easy to get an Alkalo attestation adding the politicians can influence the acquisition of voter’s card in their favour.
“In order to get away from this, we can advance and make our ID cards a legal document for voting. And anyone that turns 18 years, should register for an ID card and be eligible to vote,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the report recommended for the IEC staff to be trained to ensure they adequately understand election procedures, rules and regulations including the role of observers in the process to avoid confusions. The EWC report further recommended that IEC should conduct widespread voter information campaigns sufficiently ahead of the voter registration including the display of voter list and the appeal process to ensure that citizens are aware of the processes and how to participate.
The report stated that IEC should also work in collaboration with CSOs, the Inter- Party Committee (IPC) and lawmakers to review the Elections Act to address the widespread use of the attestation. In addition, the report recommended for the IEC to work in collaboration with IPC, lawmakers and CSOs to institute legislation for an independent oversight agency to regulate campaign financing.
The stakeholders called on the IEC to publish all election results, including the 2021 Presidential election and 2022 National Assembly election results on the IEC’s website.
Finally, the stakeholders called on the IEC give clarification and timely communicate regarding the collation procedures and locations in a timelier manner to ensure observers are able to fulfill their role in observing all the process.