The decision to amend Elections Act 2001 is nothing short of nailing the coffin on Gambian democracy. The proposed Amendment Bill 2015 is guaranteed of being passed by our rubber-stamping Parliament as soon as the Justice Minister Mama Fatima Singhateh tables it before the lawmakers on June 23rd.
The bill, purportedly sponsored by the Independent Electoral Commission, substantially hikes security deposits of would-be candidates. As such a presidential candidate needs one million instead of D10, 000 while that of national assembly is increased from D5, 000 to D100, 000. Mayoral and councilorship candidates need D25, 000 and D5, 000, respectively, before they have their names on the ballot.
Another disturbing part of the bill is that it requires all executive members of all political parties to be resident in the country, have offices in all the region of the country, hold congress bi-annually and submit their annual financial report to the IEC for scrutiny.
It is also sickening to learn that the proposed legislation require all political parties to put one million dollar Dalasi bond as well as provide 10, 000 registered signatures instead of five hundred before they take part in any election. Gambians don’t want electoral reform but not the type that leaves only President Jammeh in the ring.
We concur with Hamat Bah that the bill in the offing is meant to disenfranchise Gambians and move the country closer to one party state. What is left of any democracy in which citizens are denied their constitutional right to vote? Why would President Jammeh go to this length if he truly believes that he can win the 2016 election without hassle? Mr. Jammeh has fully demonstrated his cowardice, weakness and fear to take part in a free, fair and transparent election. Is this part of Jammeh’s dekabi mako mom doctrine [I own this country] and will do whatever to stay in power? And in so doing, make the rules of election so tough for my opponents to participate.
Some called the desperate move “the last kick of a dying horse.” Whatever the case, Gambians have a serious problem to deal with. The question that most people keep asking is: “what have we done to deserve such a tyrant and crude leader?”
We have the choice to resist the height of President Jammeh’s madness, which will preserve the future of this once Darling of Democracy, the Rule of Law and Human Rights. Our failure to do nothing means we choose to live in pieces instead of in peace. Where is peace in a country where no freedom or right exists? Democracy is surely buried in such a country long since.