Justice Ministry, GK Partners Promoting Diaspora Voting and Representation

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GK Partners has issued the following press release in its advocacy for Diaspora voting and representation:

Ministry of Justice and GK Partners in collaboration with the National Assembly Joint Committee for the Elections Bill are convening a one-day retreat for National Assembly Members (NAMs) and key partners, for technical and consultative discussions on the actualisation of Diaspora Voting and Representation. The retreat will enable NAMs to hear facts and figures, ask questions, and seek clarifications on all practical, operational and logistical aspects of diaspora voting and representation. This event builds on the continuous engagements on diaspora voting dating back to 2017, and is being held prior to the NA debate of the Elections Bill in June 2024.

The discussions and engagement can resolve any actual or potential hurdles relating to the diaspora elements of the Elections Bill, and the proposed Constitutional Amendment (Diaspora Representation) Bill. The aim is to create and demonstrate national consensus in actualising the constitutional, electoral, democratic and human rights of the Gambian diaspora, in line with the 2017 national policy of the diaspora being the Eighth Region of The Gambia. It should be noted that the Gambian diaspora have been denied their right to vote and be represented for 27 years.

At the Fifth Stake in the Nation Forum (SNF5) on 8 January 2022, His Excellency President Adama Barrow reiterated the commitment to rectify this enduring injustice and stated that: “With humility and purposefulness, I urge all institutions of government and state, and all stakeholders and development partners to redouble efforts to make diaspora voting a reality”. Accordingly, the Minister of Justice, Hon. Dawda A. Jallow is co-hosting this retreat in collaboration with stakeholders and partners. Prof. Gibril Faal, the Director of GK Partners and the MSDG Project stated that: “seven years after the end of dictatorship and return to democracy, it is urgent and imperative that The Gambia end the disenfranchisement of about 150,000 citizens in the diaspora, who are eligible voters”.

The main actions that need to be implemented to actualise diaspora voting and representation are: Passing of the ‘Elections Bill’ by the National Assembly, and maintaining the relevant provisions for diaspora voting and representation which are already incorporated in the Bill; Demarcation of Diaspora Constituencies by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), prior to amendment of Section 88 of the Constitution, in line with the law and standard practice and precedent; Passing of the ‘Constitution Amendment (Diaspora Representation) Bill’, led by Ministry of Justice with cross-party support at the National Assembly in 2024; Issuance of ‘Rules and Regulations on Diaspora Voting and Representation’ and registration of diaspora voters by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).