By Mustapha Jallow
Officials of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) accompanied by Police commissioners on Thursday allowed attestation for voters’ registration to take-place in Manduar-Touba (Wollof-Kunda).
This decision comes barley 48-hours after the people of Manduar Wollof-Kunda told the mediation officials that they would not go to the registration center, which is at Manduar Mandinka-Kunda because they were attacked and beaten mercilessly.
The new development also comes after the intervention of the IEC and senior Police heads, who headed a peace mediation team – and had listened to both sides last Tuesday. During their discussion in Manduar, the officials promised to report back to the villagers yesterday (1st July) on the decision they will take.
While at Manduar-Mankinda, villagers could be seen making effort to get registered, the situation remains clam and people are moving freely in and out of the registration centre. The village also remains under control by personnel of the Police Intervention Unit (PIU).
A group of them were seen armed – just few metres away from the registration centre in Manduar. IEC officers along with female a police officer were seen getting villagers registered.
The IEC Chairman Alhajie Alieu Momar Njai had visited both Manduar-Mankinka and Manduar-Touba and his visit was to ensure the people of Mankinka-Kunda and Touba ‘Wollof-Kunda’ are registered before time of the registration elapses.
People were seen trooping in and out of Manduar-Touba to be registered. At latest 6 paramilitary officers were also seen armed and sitting just few metres away from the entrance of Manduar-Touba. Inside Touba, where the registration is taking-place another group of armed paramilitary could be seen sitting and facing towards the registration place.
Alhagie Babucarr Secka, the Alkalo of Manduar-Touba (Wollof-Kunda), explained that he saw a troop of armed paramilitary in his village in the morning. He said the officers told him that they were assigned by the government to secure the place.
At 12 noon, according to Secka, the IEC Chairman Njai, senior staff and Police commissioners visited them. He said Sambujang Njie, IEC’s Chief Elections Officer who spoke on behalf of the Chairman told him that their mission was to make sure voters’ registration to also conduct in Manduar-Touba yesterday.
He said they were advised to give attestation according to what the law says (those with the right documents). He added they welcomed the decision and they will implement what they were advised by the IEC officials.
Alkalo Secka said stamp and attestation were been given to the people with the right documents to ensure they get registered. But he could not speak further due to a funeral they have in his village.
Faal Conteh, IEC’s Supervisor and head of the Mobile-Team in west coast region said their presence in Manduar-Touba was meant to assist their other staff station at the main registration centre in Manduar Mankinda.
He said: “We were deployed here as a reinforcement to ensure everybody gets registered. We are a mobile-team, so we are only here to support the main team at the centre,’’ he added. “This is not the centre. It is also a process of calming down the tension in the community.’’
“As far as we are concerned, when I signed any attestation – it is been sign and attested to by the Alkalo (Wollof-kunda), his attestation stamps will be on the attestation form,’’ he said.
Conteh explained that the turn-out was impressive to them because people were coming-out to ensure they are registered, saying that security was also provided to them and the people. He said the place remains calm and the registration exercise continues.
At Manduar Mankinka-Kunda, Omar Sanyang, IEC’s Senior Registration Officer said: “The IEC chairman came on the ground to collect the first information regarding on the incident. But the ground was clearer, and we don’t have any problem again on our side. The work is going as we want it to be and since the incident we do not have any difficulties here.’’
After the incident, a conductive environment has been created by the village youth and Alkalo, saying everything has returned to normal.
“The current issue at heart that we IEC don’t want to get involved is the Manduar Alkaloship because under local government authorities,’’ he explained their stance. While saying that: “Our work is anyone who comes with a valid document (ID card, passport or birth-certificate) in respect to where you come from, we will get you registered.’’
Alkalo Bojang explained work (registration) exercise is still ongoing in his village, saying people are now focused on the registration.