By Momodou Jarju
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) will advise the Gambia Government on the universal suffrage of the diaspora Gambians in the forthcoming presidential elections slated for December 4th, 2021.
Vice President Dr. Isatou Touray told deputies in Banjul on Wednesday that as a government, they are committed to the issue, but IEC would have to advise them due to the complexities of elections.
“Elections and the intricacies of general elections fall squarely under the mandate of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and therefore we believe that when time is right and all the necessary challenges can be dealt with, the IEC will advise government to that effect,” she said.
Member for Kiang East, Yaya Kassama, asked the VP to inform the assembly about the state of preparedness for diaspora voting in the 2021 elections.
Madam Touray said since the declaration of the diaspora as the eight region of The Gambia, their government through the ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken several steps to ensure the meaningful contributions of the diaspora towards national development.
She said steps such as engagement of diaspora for their contributions into the new constitution and organizing forums at local hotels in the country were taken- the most recent of which was held in early march 2020 at a hotel.
“All these initiatives are geared towards engaging and encouraging the diaspora to partake in the developmental initiative of the country. In order to galvanize impactful contributions of the diaspora, the ministry of foreign affairs has appointed focal points in all its missions abroad to facilitate meaningful engagements of the diaspora outreach to partake into the crave agenda of the government,” she said.
Voting in general elections is one of the many initiatives the diaspora can contribute towards nation building and this government is fully aware of that fact, vice president Touray added.
Sulayman Saho, Member for Central Badibou, asked the VP about the possibility of Diaspora Gambians to be represented at the assembly next tenure. Vice President Touray replied in the positive and told him that the IEC will as well advise them to that effect.
“This is a very novel idea in this democracy and like I told you, it is under the purview of the IEC,” Madam Touray said.
The public officer also said it is a process and procedure which they as a government must get right.