GDC and Boido A. Baldeh of Basse Mansajang. The returning officer stated in a press release that that he was acting in accordance with section 49 of the Elections Act which empowers him as Amadou Susso is the APRC aspirant for the Chairpersonship election in the Basse Administrative Area. He submitted his nomination papers on Monday, 23 April 2018 and on Thursday, 26 April 2018 the Returning Officer for the Basse Administrative Area rejected his nomination.
The rejection of Mr Susso’s nomination is a consequence of the objection to his nomination by the returning officer to decide on an objection. The returning officer decided to sustain the objection and thus rejected the nomination of Mr Susso.
The reason given is that Mr Susso was convicted and sentenced to a fine and is therefore not qualified to stand for election in accordance with section 17(3)(b) of the Local Government Act, which states:
“A person shall not qualify to be elected or nominated as a member of a Council if he or she has been sentenced to death or imprisonment for an offence involving fraud, dishonesty or violence or has been convicted of an offence relating to or connected with elections under any enactment in force in The Gambia at the time.”
The law does provide a safety net, just in case the Returning Officer errs in his/her decision. Hence Section 49(5) of the Elections Act makes provision for appeal in writing to the Commission against the decision of the Returning Officer within two days.
According to APRC and IEC sources the APRC has petitioned the Commission. The APRC argues in their petition that section 17(3)(b) talks about imprisonment not conviction and that Mr Susso was not imprisoned. They also argued that the objection should not have been considered because it was delivered late and not to the Returning Officer as required by law. At the time of going to press the IEC had not yet announced its decision on the appeal of the APRC.
Two points are noteworthy though. The IEC should ensure that they come up with the right decision, backed by law and facts, fair play and the interest of the electorate. Secondly, they should do so without delay. This is a test case for the IEC. The decision it makes and how soon it does so can impinge on its credibility.