After the UDP recently released what it said is evidence of the illegal registration of voters, linked to electoral malpractices and fraud, IEC PRO Pa Makan Khan has declined to comment.
Khan is Director of Communication and public relations officer for the Independent Electoral Commission, IEC.
He was asked by our reporter to comment on public calls for the resignation of the IEC Chairman, Alieu Momar Njie, who recently declared that he will resign, should the UDP produce any evidence linking the IEC to election malpractices.
Meanwhile, the UDP’s response to the IEC Chairman has been the recent publishing of more than 250 names of voters, who got registered at a center located at the Jambangjelly Market.
The opposition party maintains that they were registered days after the official closure of the registration of voters in the country.
It has been said this was part of a pattern of registration of voter’s across the country, done outside of the gazetted date of the official registration exercise.
PRO Khan also would not comment, when asked whether the continuing silence of IEC over the UDP allegations is proof of guilt.
“We don’t have time to answer such questions; we are currently busy with other things. I think you should be asked important questions other than this one”, PRO Khan told our reporter.
Pressed on whether the registration of more than 250 voters at the said registration center did take place, Khan responded: “I don’t have any comment to make on this matter”.
Meanwhile, Madi Jobarteh, a leading rights activist working for the British Westminster Foundation has added his voice to those calling on the IEC to respond to the UDP revelations.
“It is 72 hours today since the United Democratic Party released the names and pictures of some 256 people said to form part of a larger list of people who were fraudulently registered by the IEC.
“The party said this is part of the evidence they have indicating that the December 4 presidential elections were rigged in favor of President Barrow and NPP.
“Indeed, it is unfortunate that the matter did not go ahead in the Supreme Court so that the elections will be fully scrutinized to determine if it was stolen or not”.
Jobarteh added: “That notwithstanding, the UDP must be commended for sharing information they consider to be evidence of fraud.
“For that matter, the body most affected is the Independent Electoral Commission since it is the one who registered voters. By this information, the credibility and integrity of the IEC is hereby questioned.
“If this information is found to be true, then it means the IEC would have done an irreparable damage to the Republic and democracy, as it has become a tool in undermining the genuine sovereign will of Gambians in choosing their representatives.”
The IEC, he went on, should not ignore or be silent about these allegations, which are coming from the country’s strongest and largest opposition party over the past 25 years.
The commission owes it to itself and to the Gambian public, in particular, to respond to the UDP’s allegations by either confirming or disputing them.
“The fact that the Supreme Court dismissed the case is no reason for the IEC to ignore these allegations. Rather IEC must realize that it is their integrity and credibility – as officials and as an institution – that is on the line here, for which they must protect and clear their name.
“More importantly, the Gambian people have a right to know if the IEC ran the elections fairly or not,” Jobarteh continued.
Madi Jobarteh is Director of the Westminster Foundation Gambia Branch and a well-known Gambian human rights activist.
According to Jobarteh, “while we look forward to the IEC’s response, it is also necessary to urge UDP to disclose the full information as soon as possible for public consumption.
“In this regard, it is necessary that UDP also brings this matter before the Inter-Party Committee, so that all political parties would have the information and respond to it.
“The purpose of these moves is to ensure that all electoral stakeholders are on the same page as to whether the voter registration and other claims of fraud are real or not.”