Thursday, December 3, 2020

Will the Diaspora vote?

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

It will be a monumental disgrace if the Constitution and electoral laws of a third Republic fail to accord more rights than the current Constitution and electoral laws of the Third Republic are found to be inferior to the Constitution of the Second Republic.

First and Foremost, the Constitution of the second republic provides for dual citizenship of Gambians. Section 12A reads:

“A Citizen of The Gambia who acquires the citizenship of another country may, if he or she so desires, retains his or her citizenship of The Gambia.”

Furthermore Section 39 of the Constitution adds:

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“(1) Every citizen of The Gambia being of eighteen years or older and of sound mind shall have the right to vote for the purpose of elections of a President and members of the National Assembly, and shall be entitled to be registered as a voter in a National Assembly constituency for that purpose.

“(2) Every citizen of The Gambia who is a registered voter shall be entitled to vote in a referendum held in accordance with this Constitution or any other law.

“(3) Every citizen of The Gambia being of the age of eighteen years or older and of sound mind shall be entitled, in accordance with the provisions of this Chapter and any Act of the National Assembly providing for such elections, to vote in elections for local government authorities and traditional rulers in the area in which he or she is ordinarily resident.”

To ensure that the Constitution is respected, section 11 subsection (1) of the Elections Act reads:

“The Commission shall prepare, compile and maintain in accordance with this Part, a register of voters for each constituency and a register of Gambian registered voters in foreign countries.”

Section 141 buttresses the right of the Diaspora to vote as follows:
“The Commission may make rules for Gambians in any foreign country to vote in a Presidential election.”

Hence any new Constitution or Electoral Law should build upon such a foundation to concretise and expand such rights.

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