By Mustapha Jallow
The National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) on Friday started sensitization on the mammoth voter registration exercise to be conducted by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) from May to July 2021, ahead of the Presidential elections.
The campaign was aimed at interacting and providing detailed information to community members about dates and qualifications for voter registration as well as the required documents for registration to spur popular participation in the voter registration exercise and subsequent general election.
Supported by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the campaign was organized by the country’s civic education council under the theme “voter’s card, a key to your franchise.’’
Mr. Yusupha Bojang, Programme Manager for NCCE, told reporters that voter’s registration is a key element in ensuring all qualified citizens both men, women and young people alike can enjoy the right to vote.
“The sensitization seeks to avail citizens particularly women and young people with information about the registration criteria such as who is qualified to be registered and when to be registered with a view to having all eligible Gambians to be registered to vote in the presidential elections in December,’’ Bojang said.
According to him, the face-to-face community interaction which was launched at Keneba in Kantora District on 2nd April, 2021, form part of the first phase of a nationwide sensitization programme to promote civic awareness for increased electoral participation. The sensitization is expected to last for ten days.
Bojang said they have targeted over 40 major communities in Upper River Region and Central River Region to enhance their understanding and appreciation of their civic rights and duties to register and acquire a voter’s card. This, he said, will spur inclusive and popular participation in the voter registration exercise.
He said elections are a cardinal pillar in a democracy and offer citizens an unrivalled opportunity to periodically voice their preferences and choose their representatives in a peaceful manner.
“This is one of the features that make democracy standout among other systems of governance. The right to have a voice in selecting those who govern is not just a basic human right, but enshrined in the Constitution of the Gambia thus creating the foundation for political participation of citizens,’’ he stated.
Bojang said the constitution has guaranteed every Gambian citizen who is eighteen years and above and of sound mind the right to be registered as a voter and vote in an election in the Gambia.
He added that the constitution recognizes voting in an election as the ultimate expression of the aforementioned right.
Meanwhile, NCCE informed the public that to register in the upcoming voter registration exercise, one has to prove she/he is Gambian by producing one of the following: Birth Certificate, ID Card, Passport; or Alkalo or District Chief Attestation.