Losing two big cases, within 24hours against Dr. Ismaila Ceesay’s Citizens’ Alliance Party (CA) and Mai Fatty’s Gambia Moral Congress (GMC), the country’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says it might appeal the decision of the High Court.
The electoral body’s director of Training and Communication confirmed this development to The Alkamba Times in an exclusive interview.
Two landmark judgements against the IEC coming barely two weeks to the December 4th polls has many wondering whether the election body can conduct free, fair and credible elections free of such erroneous slips.
Delivering her ruling on Tuesday at the High Court complex in Banjul, Justice Amina Saho-Ceesay declared that the electoral body failed to comply with the provisions and spirit of the Elections Act Cap 3:01 in the rejection of Dr Ismaila Ceesay as presidential candidate of the Citizens’ Alliance. She also awarded a cost of D200,000.00 as administrative and legal costs against the IEC.
Meanwhile, the leader of the GMC Mai Fatty whose nomination was also rejected by the IEC on the grounds that the GMC Leader submitted less than 200 required voters to support his nomination also won his case at the High Court.
Reacting to this development in an interview, Pa Matarr Khan, said: “This is a legal matter and the various affected parties went to court. Therefore, as a commission that is law abiding and that respects the rule of law, we will comply with the ruling of the court.”
Asked whether the Commission is going to appeal the decision of the High Court Judge, Khan said: “I hope we are going to appeal. This is a matter for the Commission. The commission will be looking into it and as soon as it’s done, we would communicate to the press. However, we might appeal against the case.”
The integrity of the electoral Commission, he went on, can’t be compromised.
“The Commission acted in good faith with regard to the disqualification of the various candidates. We acted based on laws and good practises. The decision on the nomination process was done strictly in accordance with the law and in accordance with the provisions of the Election Act. Therefore, the commission came out with those decisions based on its findings in relation to the Election Act. Well if people are not happy about it, they have rights to go to the court and seek redress.”
The Commission, Khan further explained, acted strictly based on the laws and Election Act in order to esure candidates meet requirements based on the law.
Further explaining reasons why some aspirants were rejected, the IEC spokesperson said some candidates were rejected because they didn’t have enough support in the region.
“Banjul is a small area and I know some people find it difficult to get the required number of voters supporting their candidates or supporting their nomination.”
That was the case of CA and GMC. In fact, it was not only in Banjul but even in Mansakonko. Again, we need to understand that before a candidate is approved by the IEC to contest in the election, the individual needs to be supported by 5000 voters from the country. However, within a particular region, the person needs to be supported with at least 200 voters.”
Quizzed on whether he is confident about the commission winning an appeal against the decision Khan said: “Of course I am quite sure about that for the fact that all the decisions taken during the nomination process were based on the law and we also acted based on good faith. We didn’t do anything based on malicious intent and there was nothing illegal. The decision taken was also based on merits. The documents provided by IEC in terms of their nomination were reviewed strictly based on merits and based on their conformity with the Election Act.”
“I am quite sure if this case is appealed by the Commission, the appeal will be granted by the Court. The Commission is ready for the election. We have already deployed all our materials countrywide. In fact, we just concluded the Training of Trainers (ToT) on Tuesday. These are people who are going to be in the various election areas across the country,” he stated, adding that the commission is looking to train about 6000 people to work in the election cycle.