By Nelson Manneh
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on Saturday 9th April 2022, conducted parliamentary elections in Foni as scheduled, despite the ongoing crisis of neighbouring Cassamance that has impacted the area.
The Senegalese military raid in Casamance, the Southern region of Senegal has caused the internal displacement of border settlers in the Foni Kansala district, many of whom have moved to the urban settlements of the Gambia.
According to the National Disaster Management Agency’s (NDMA) data collect initially regarding the crisis, more than one thousand families have been internally displaced, and even before the parliamentary elections, many people predicted that there will be a low voter turnout in the area due to the impact of the raid. In fact, some suggested for the IEC reschedule the parliamentary elections in Foni.
This reporter visited some of the polling stations at border villages and found IEC elections officers conducting elections as usual.
In Kampant village, the voter turnout was good because some border villagers voted therein, and by twelve midday, people could be seen patiently waiting to cast their votes.
Mariama Jarju said the voter turnout was poor in Gekiss village where she voted. “The voter turnout here is not impressive, but maybe before the day ends, people will come out to and vote,” she said.
Ms. Jarju said the low voter turnout can be attributed to the ongoing crisis but it is also a phenomenon that Gambians do not respect parliamentary elections when compared to presidential elections.
“Many voters do not respect parliamentary elections, and only participate in presidential elections. I think the IEC should do more voter education so that people will know the importance of parliamentary elections, ” she said; for her, parliamentary elections are more important than the presidential election.
“Members of Parliament are our representatives and we elect them and send them to the parliament to represent us. They serve as our mouthpiece to talk listen and observe on our behalf,” she said.