The Gambia’s chief opposition lawmaker in its parliament, Hon. Samba Jallow has advised the country’s electoral commission chief, Alieu Njie to prepare to address fairly without nepotism a potentially violent electoral period which is already marred by violence with eruptions of rare protests for electoral reform.

Ongoing crisis.

During the parliamentary committee session, Minority Leader Jallow (NRP – Niamina Dankunku) said the Independent Electoral Commission cannot exempt itself from the ongoing crisis that has drawn international condemnation for the excessive use of force towards peaceful protesters by security forces. Political parties in The Gambia have sent electoral reform demands to the commission. They were largely ignored but an inter-party committee has been set up to address and mitigate political tension and to secure a free and fair poll ahead of the December presidential polls.

Violent crackdown on opposition protesters

Protests erupted last month in the West African nation leading to at least three deaths, said the United Nations. The EU, ECOWAS, and the African Union condemned the heavy-handedness of the paramilitary police force in quelling the protests. Opposition leader and human rights lawyer Ousainou Darboe, along with at least 50 others, mostly members of his UDP party are being prosecuted for conspiracy and inciting violence. The UN rights commission has demanded their release and for Gambian authorities to respect their international obligations towards freedom of peaceful assembly.

Embarrassing.

A high court judge, Justice Ottaba who was presiding over the case has called the prosecution of the protesters, especially that of Mr. Darboe embarrassing. Hon Jallow presaged against partial addressing of electoral issues amid recent tensions. Jallow has been mounting pressure on the Gambia’s #Government to get an electoral chair after calling former commission chief Mustapha Carayol’s leadership ‘illegal.’ Critics, however, said new Chairperson Njie is a registered member of the ruling APRC Party and had pursued public office through the party. The opposition has, however, steered away from questioning his integrity.

New constituencies and registration fees may cause low voter turn out.

Hon. Jallow has warned the new chair of some discrepancies in the electoral landscape, which may cause voters to stay home. Jallow said voters will be unable to renew their cards due to costs associated with the replacement of voter registration cards and the adverse effects of the demarcation of certain constituencies. At least four constituencies were further demarcated during the amendment of electoral regulations last summer; meaning those who were registered in the old constituencies and now fall under new ones will have to pay a GMD D100 fee for replacement. Jallow found that unacceptable after parliament approved GMD 33 million to the commission for elections.

New electoral laws.

The Gambia’s new electoral laws have made it difficult for the polls to be free and fair, giving incumbent President Yahya Jammeh an edge over opposition candidates. In 2011, a group of six opposition parties boycotted parliamentary and local government elections saying that they were not free and fair. President Yahya Jammeh, who has ruled the country of 1.9 million people vowed to brutally deal with any opposition member who disturbs the peace during the election; threatening to kill them and make them disappear for millions of years. #World Politics #Foreign Affairs