Wednesday, May 18, 2022

WHO IS QUALIFIED TO STAND FOR NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS?

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

The answer is simple. Section 89 of the Constitution establishes the requirements which an aspiring candidate must meet to be qualified to stand for National Assembly elections. It reads:

“A person is qualified for election to the National Assembly if he or she –

(a)   is a citizen of The Gambia;

(b)   has attained the age of twenty-one years;

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(c)    has been ordinarily resident in that constituency for a period of at least one year prior to nomination day;

(d)   is able to speak the English Language with a degree of proficiency sufficient to enable him or her to take part in the proceedings of the National Assembly;

(e)   has made such declaration of his or her assets to the Independent Electoral Commission as is required in accordance with section 43.

(2) The provisions of paragraphs (a), (b) and (d) of subsection (1) shall apply to a nominated candidate who shall also be required to make a declaration of his or her assets to the independent Electoral Commission.”

On the other hand section 90 establishes other conditions that would result in the disqualification of an aspiring candidate. It reads:

“(1)  No person is qualified for election as a member of  the National Assembly if he or she –

(a)   holds the citizenship or nationality of a country other than The Gambia;

(b)   is adjudged under any law of The Gambia to be of unsound- mind;

(c) is under sentence of death imposed on him or her by any court, or is serving, or within five years of his or her nomination for election completed serving, a sentence of imprisonment for a  term exceeding six months imposed  on him or her by a court or substituted by competent authority for some other sentence imposed on him or her by a court, and has not received a free pardon;

(d)   has been found guilty of any abuse of office, corruption or any offence connected with public elections by a court;

(e)   has been found by the report of a commission or committee of inquiry (the proceedings of which have been held and published in accordance with the relevant law) to be incompetent to hold public office by reason of having acquired assets unlawfully or defrauded the State or misused or abused his or her office, or wilfully acted in a manner prejudicial to the interests of the State. and the findings have not been set aside on appeal or Judicial review;

(f )     within the three years preceding nomination day, holds or acts in any office prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly the functions of which involve responsibility for, or in connection with the conduct of elections to the National Assembly or tile compilation of any register of voters for the purpose of such an election;

(g) unless granted leave of absence in accordance with section 170, holds a public office or an office in the public service;

(h) holds or acts in any office or appointment that may be prescribed by an Act of the 1Fitional Assembly;

(i)     is a member of a disciplined force;

(j)     is an elected member of a local government authority;

(k)    is a District Chief or Alkalo;

(I)    is adjudged or otherwise declared a bankrupt under any law of The Gambia and has not been discharged.

(2)   For the purposes of this section –

(a)   a sentence of imprisonment imposed by a court outside The Gambia for an offence in respect of an act or omission which, if committed within The Gambia would constitute a comparable offence, shall be deemed to be a sentence of imprisonment within the meaning of paragraph (c)  of subsection (1);

 (b)   no account shall be taken of a sentence of imprisonment imposed as an alternative to, or in default of, the payment of a  fine;

(c)    the period of disqualification under paragraph (d) or (e) of subsection (1) shall not exceed five years after-

(i)     the completion of any sentence of imprisonment passed for such offence; or

(ii)    the expiry of any period during which the person concerned has been debarred from holding public office.

(3) This section shall apply to nominated members with such modifications relating to time limits for elections.”

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