IEC Chairman, Alieu Momor Njie

We wish to bring to your attention the issue of the political parties that have not fully met the criteria to continue to exist, being allowed to engage in political activities, which include taking part in the nomination process, by fielding candidates for the presidential elections.

We are very concerned by the posture taken by the IEC who seemingly appear to turn a blind eye on the blatant violations of the Election Amendment act by certain political parties, particularly Section 105 of the Act. This section requires political parties to, amongst other things, hold a biennial congress (with the aim of electing a leadership structure, most notably, Executive Committee members). It also calls for political parties to establish offices in the seven administrative regions of The Gambia, as well as produce a manifesto and the submission of audited accounting records. We are aware that at least three political parties are not in full compliance with these requirements, namely: Gambia Alliance for National Unity, which never held a congress, does not have an elected Executive Committee membership, nor has it established offices in all the administrative areas of the country, nor a manifesto; National Peoples’ Party- NPP, which never held a congress, and does not have an elected Executive Committee; Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), which only has an interim Executive Committee, but has not presented a manifesto. They are also now splintered into two camps, with each group claiming legitimacy. These are parties that are presenting Sheikh Tijan Hydara, and Adama Barrow respectively, as their flag bearers. Their eligibility to exist as political parties is now put into question, which affects the candidature of the individuals they are proposing.

We would also wish to remind the IEC that in 2016, it disqualified The National Democratic Action Movement (NDAM) and the Gambia Democratic Party (GDP), for the same infractions. As recently as January 2019, it also triggered Section b 127 of the Elections Act and issued a six-month suspension on the National Congress Party (NCP), for failing to hold a ‘unified congress’. The question now arises as to why would the IEC not also show consistency and apply the rules and regulations on other parties that have also flouted the Amendment Act? Failure to do so will grossly undermine the credibility of the institution of the Elections Regulator, and further instil the lingering doubts in the minds of the public, and the electorate on the credibility of the December presidential polls. The country can ill afford such a mishap.

We are also bringing to your attention the fact that there are at least three independent candidates that have not met the residency rule, which effectively states that: ‘a candidate should be ordinarily resident in The Gambia for five years immediately preceding the election’. It is doubtful that Mr. Tamsir Jasseh, Mr. Joseph Joof, and Mr. Papa Faal have met this criterion. Finally, we wish to implore the IEC to be vigilant in its vetting process to ascertain that all candidates satisfy the requirement of the completion of a senior secondary school education, as there is a likely hood that at least one of the candidates vying for the presidency may not have satisfied this criterion.

We request the IEC to take up its rightful role as the Elections Regulator, and rectify these anomalies, without delay, so as to ensure that the election process, and the polls in December are not only transparent, free, fair and credible, but are seen to be so by all stakeholders.

Sincerely,

R2K Coalition- Gambia

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Mr. Sainey M.K. Marenah is a Prominent Gambian journalist, founding editor The Alkamba Times and formerly head of communications at the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) and Communications and PR Consultant for The Gambia Pilot Program, under Gamworks. Mr. Marenah served as the Social media Strategist and Editor at Gambia Radio and Television Services. He is also the Banjul Correspondent for Voice of America Radio. Sainey is a human rights and developmental journalist who has carved a strong niche particularly in new media environments in the Gambian media industry. Mr. Marenah began his career as a junior reporter with the Point Newspaper in the Gambia in 2008 and rose through the ranks to become Chief correspondent before moving to The Standard Newspaper also in Banjul as Editorial Assistant and head of News. He is a household name in the Gambia’s media industry having covered some of the most important stories in the former and current government. These include the high profile treason cases including the Trial of Former military chiefs in Banjul in 2009 to 2012. Following his arrest and imprisonment by the former regime of President, Yahya Jammeh in 2014, Marenah moved to Dakar Senegal where he continues to practice Journalism freelancing for various local and international Media organization’s including the BBC, Al-Jazeera, VOA, and ZDF TV in Germany among others. He is the co-Founder of the Banjul Based Media Center for Research and Development; an institution specialized in research and development undertakings. As a journalist and Communication Expert, focused on supporting the Gambia's transitional process, Mr Marenah continues to play a pivotal role in shaping a viable media and communications platform that engages necessary tools and action to increase civic participation and awareness of the needs of transitional governance to strengthen the current move towards democratization. Mr. Marenah has traveled extensively as a professional journalist in both Europe, Africa and United States and attended several local and international media trainings.

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