The Right 2 Know Coalition-Gambia extends its greetings and compliments to you and the IEC. We write in the true spirit of partnership, with the aim of assisting your Commission better deploy its mandate at this critical time, as The Gambia heads for National Assembly elections. We have written to you in the past, the first of which was on 17th October 2016, and subsequently written to your good self on other occasions: 16 September 2019, requesting that you normalize the issue of diaspora voting, and respect the rights of the Diaspora to participate in the electoral processes; another letter was sent to you on 6 April, 2021 and again on 29 October 2021, asking you to ensure that the laws and regulations guiding the existence of political parties is respected. We will place it on record that we have never received a response to any of our letters. We hope that this time around we will receive a response. But we will not hold our breath. Nevertheless, we will continue putting our concerns on paper and publishing these issues for posterity. We believe that in time, and in the future, our observations may be a lesson for all and sundry as to how we (mis) managed our march on the path to democracy, and respect for the rule of law and upholding of political rights.
Mr chairperson, the IEC’s awesome responsibility of upholding and adhering to its legal mandate and principles of integrity and fair play, cannot be overstated. We realize the responsibility entrusted to it by the constitution and the various legislative frameworks that legalizes its existence. It is in this regard that the R2K Coalition-Gambia wishes to enquire from the IEC as to why it has turned a blind eye to a clear violation of the Elections Amendment Act, by the NPP, (the party of the incumbent). The NPP was registered and established as a bona fide political party on 31 December 2019, under your hand and stamp of approval. A year prior, your very office issued an ultimatum to all existing parties at the time, to hold Congresses, other wise risk being suspended for violating the Elections Act. Most parties scurried to fall into compliance. However, the National Congress Party (NCP), according to your very office, fell afoul of the warning, and were therefore suspended on 18 January 2019. 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. The IEC triggered Section b 127 of the Elections Act and issued a six-month suspension on the NCP, for failing to hold a ‘unified congress’. The question now arises as to why the IEC would not also show consistency and apply the rules and regulations on other parties that have also flouted the Amendment Act.
President Adama Barrow’s party, NPP, has never held a congress. We raised this in our letter of 29 October and were told that the regulations stipulate that it must be within two years, (other unsavoury things were said about us in your half-hearted rebuttal, and the same distasteful response also came from the minister of information, Ebrima Sillah, and another NPP lackey- both statements were insulting but not surprising) and that the NPP was less than two years old. The NPP has now surpassed that 24-month mark, yet still has not held a congress. This gross infraction of the Elections Act is a continuing violation, as the IEC has allowed the illegality to endure unabated.
The IEC knew that the NPP never held a Congress yet went ahead and accepted the party’s nominations of candidates for the National Assembly elections. The IEC was aware that President Adama Barrow’s party, the NPP, never held a congress, yet turned a blind eye on the nationwide presidential campaign undertaken by the incumbent to boost his chances of electoral victory in the legislative polls, wantonly abusing state resources with impunity. The IEC was aware of these anomalies yet was complicit in assisting the NPP evade the regulations set in the Elections Amendment Act. These are the same laws the IEC has used to penalize less powerful and much smaller parties in the past. However, when it comes to bigger parties, particularly those belonging to the incumbent, the application of the rules is very different. Your motto of fair play, integrity and transparency, (which is oddly no longer prominently embossed on your webpage) seems to have faded away in presentation, practice and policy. Nevertheless, we endeavour to hold you accountable, to ensure that as the national elections regulator you deploy your mandate according to the laws of the land. We hereby call on the IEC to:
- Immediately suspend the National Peoples’ Party (NPP) for at least six months (as was applied to other parties for the same infraction) for violating the Elections Amendment Act;
- Immediately declare all approved applications of NPP candidates for the 2022 National Assembly elections null and void;
iii. Immediately inform the NPP that it must cease all political activity until it holds a Congress according to the Elections Amendment Act, and the suspension is lifted;
Failure to do so will grossly undermine the credibility of the institution of the Elections Regulator and will further instil the lingering doubts in the minds of the public, and the electorate on the credibility of the April National Assembly polls. The 6th Assembly’s credibility, and legitimacy will be forever stained if the IEC refuses to abide by the laws of the land.
R2K Coalition- Gambia & The Democratic Union of Gambian Activists (DUGA)-
R2K Gambia is a grouping of individuals with professional backgrounds ranging from geology, demographics, economics, international relations and law, communications, and academia. All members are human rights activists. We are located in the US, UK, West and Southern Africa. We are a non-partisan entity that focuses on rule of law and democracy, good governance, human rights, transparency, and the principles of access to information.
The Democratic Union of Gambian Activists (DUGA)- is an umbrella movement to unite Gambians in North America (US and Canada), Europe and Africa, mobilizing citizens to achieving the goal of a sustainable democracy in The Gambia.