Rigged: When Electoral Fraud Plagues a Nation (Part 1)

Momodou Sabally

By:Momodou Sabally

Of all the commentaries on the recently held Presidential election, none was more telling and more poignant than the one made by Modou Njai on Facebook. His comment resonated well with the assertion made by President Barrow’s own former information Minister Demba A. Jawo.

Here’s what Mr. Njai emphatically stated as Barrow was about to be sworn in as his own replacement following an election he vowed to not contest when he sought our mandate in 2016:

“Tomorrow the IEC declared winner will be inaugurated as president of this country. Candidate that opening [SIC] and emphatically called on aliens to get our voter’s cards and threatened the Alkalolu and Chefolu of consequences if they fail to give out attestations.

“Let the aliens call him “Mr. President”, I will not.”

Mr. Njai’s statement is the raw truth felt and held by most Gambians, including many who claim to be nonpartisan, yet deeply troubled by the shocking outcome of the December 4, election that saw a clearly unpopular incumbent sweep the polls with shocking numbers.

Thousands of Gambians hold this same view expressed by Mr Njai but are not bold enough to speak out.

We must commend Barrows former information minister who mustered the courage to speak his mind even though it might be inconvenient for him given the atmosphere of denial prevailing among the nation’s top elite who have pressed their own mute buttons on the critical matter for fear of reprisals from a government that has the potential to remain in power for decades given the fact that our electoral registered has been compromised, and hijacked by Barrows NPP. Let us read Jawo’s comment:

“It is a well known fact that several non-Gambians who had no business in our elections were mobilized to vote and they indeed voted. However, apparently because of their over-confidence in their poise to win the elections and trying to ward off the label of being anti-foreigner, the United Democratic Party (UDP), in particular, did not see it necessary to take the matter to the revising courts. Therefore, it is now too late in the day for anyone to contemplate challenging such irregularities, thus making all those non-Gambians who were illegally registered, acquire Gambian citizenship through the back door. This indeed has some negative implications for this country as some of those people may be criminals and other undesirable elements and giving them our citizenship on a silver platter just for political expediency by a few politicians bent on winning the elections by whatever means necessary, could come to haunt us in the long run.

It is unfortunate however that the UDP never had the chance to bring out in open court whatever evidence they claim to have had with regards to election fraud.”

This is what Mr. Jawo said with much difficulty and prevarication as he felt clearly conflicted in his analysis. But we must commend him for his sincerity in pointing out some painful truths even if we do not agree with the entirety of his conclusions in that article.

My problem with Jawo, a view held by many observers too, is where he asks us “to move on as a nation and we expect the opposition to work hard towards the National Assembly elections to ensure that this country is not, by default, transformed into a single-party nation,”.

This statement is clearly illogical. You want us to go ahead and contest elections with an electoral register that is populated with hundreds of thousands of non-Gambia voters? Certainly this is not reasonable and falls short of the expected logical next step which should be the purging of the electoral register of all unqualified foreigners who where granted voters’ cards by the corrupt Barrow Administration and their minions of the incumbent NPP.

To save this country from the fears expressed by Mr. Jawo and many others, what we must do is to continue to use all legal and Democratic channels to challenge and nullify all the anomalies embedded in our Democratic process by the clear rigging of this election with the bloated electoral register that needs to be cleaned.

If we allow the situation to remain as is, then how on earth can any political party challenge the incumbent NPP in any subsequent election and expect to do well?

The Supreme Court has really shortchanged the entire country by throwing away the UDP’s petition and refusing the nation the opportunity to hear from the aggrieved parties (including members of the opposition GDC) regarding the allegation of electoral fraud backed by solid evidence.

The situation is akin to that of a referee refusing to make use of VAR when an entire stadium is howling about a clear-case penalty that the linesmen did not wave. The court’s citation of a technicality that most legal minds questioned, reminds me about the wisdom of the ancient scriptures that the law was made for man and not man for the law.

Momodou Sabally
Former SG and Presidential Affairs Minister, Economist


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