The Gambia’s main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) has rejected the proposed electoral reform, calling it a fulfillment of the APRC’s widely touted No Election agenda. The biggest impediment to the party’s agenda is Section 100 (2) (a) of the Constitution, the party stated.
“APRC supporters of various categories had in the past called for “No Election” in The Gambia,” the UDP said in a statement. “Election to representative institutions in The Gambia takes place more often between candidates sponsored by different political parties. There have been instances where independent candidates and party sponsored candidates vie for the same elective office.”
The party said “President Yahya Jammeh and his enablers and collaborators have now found a route to realize APRC’S “No Election” agenda.” This, according to the UDP evidenced in President Yahya Jammeh’s “self-perpetuating scheme calling on the National Assembly to ratify his party’s anti-free fair and transparent election by endorsing a Bill titled the Elections (Amendment) Act 2015.”
The amendment calls for the hiking of presidential candidates’ deposit by D990, 000. This proposed law, which is yet to become public, makes security deposits non-refundable. “The current requirement is to deposit D10, 000 that is refundable to a losing candidate provided that he secures not less than 40% of the votes cast,” the UDP stated. The party also complained about the increase of deposit of aspiring National Assembly candidates from D5, 000 to 100, 000. The amendment also increased deposit for aspiring Mayoral and Councillorship candidates by D47, 500 and D8, 750, respectively.
The party said the proposed amendments are not only “preposterous and ridiculous” but “they also expose Jammeh’s unwillingness for meaningful electoral reform. The Jammeh amendment ignores the fact that Section 26 of the Constitution guarantees every citizen of The Gambia of full age and capacity the right without unreasonable restrictions to take part in the conduct of public affairs directly or through freely chosen representatives; to vote and stand for elections at genuine periodic elections for public officers.”
The party said monetary conditions required to be satisfied by any person who wishes to contest for any of the elective office constitute unreasonable restrictions to the exercise of guaranteed rights to do so. The UDP also questioned the “rationale for decreeing the payments/deposits as non refundable? Why charge a fee of One million dalasi for registering a political party? Is the IEC now a business/commercial enterprise?” the party asked, calling on lawmakers to reject the “Bill in toto”, for “they (APRC NAMs) risk becoming hostages to the whims and caprices of Yahya Jammeh who at will expels any member of the APRC. National Assembly Members must not allow themselves to be placed in political servitude and bondage.”
The statement told us what we already know but not much about step or steps the party or the opposition in general will take to stop Jammeh and his enablers in parliament, the electoral commission and in the executive from carrying out this diabolical scheme. We must be aware now that statements alone do not stop them from pursuing Jammeh’s plans.
Dodou, at least the Aprc can now be sure that the scheme is illegal and therefore contestable as to its validity. That alone is udp “doing something.” it’s call asserting pressure.
Well I believe firmly now that the oppositions are not ‘assertive enough in putting pressure’ on this regime that is doing everything to take away our rights. I would have thought that with such a law coming into force, which I think is another constitutional coup d’etat, the opposition would, individually or collectively, call for nationwide boycotts and street demonstration. The statements from UDP and PDOIS do not appear to be suitable panacea for dealing with such a serious threat to our lives and freedom. Let us take the example of a patient who returns to his or her doctor to report the ineffectiveness of a previously prescribed medicine for an ailment. The doctor will almost always prescribe a different medication for the ailment. Statements such as these from UDP and PDOIS have always been issued for the past 21 years without stopping Jammeh from consolidating his position. Should we carry on using the same old remedies for new threats to our country? Let us also take a few historical antecedent to buttress this argument. This year marks 800 years of the Magna Carta and we should remind ourselves that its coming into force did not come about through the King of England’s kindness but rather because England’s aristocracy rebelled and put the right amount of pressure on him forcing the king to put his seal to the document now being hailed as the fundamental building block for universal rights. Similarly, when the people of Manding felt unable to withstand Sumanguru’s draconian rule, their action went beyond issuing statements to calling on the return of their exiled prince to mount an uprising laying the foundation of the Mali Empire. And in 1961, then PPP leader Jawara and his colleagues resigned from government, creating a constitutional crisis, following the appointment of PS Njie as Chief Minister by Governor Windley, a move considered unconstitutional. So such statements from our opposition parties are not for me any longer.
Today’s sitting at the National Assembly is deferred. It shows that UDP and the opposition strategy of asserting pressure is working.
Uncle Darboe you have said it all. Are these so-called NAM deaf and blind.Have they not seen the likes of Idi Amin, Gadaffi,Saddam and their enablers who were more powerful than their president just to mention few, how they ended up.Like the saying goes,there are three days in this world,yesterday,today and tomorrow.Yesterday(PPP) is gone,Today(Aimless People Ruling our Country) and Tomorrow is in question.
If things change the other way round which is just around the corner,we will change all the rubbish you enacted in parliament and go after all of you one by one Inshallah.
My brothers what do you think this Bill is encouraging the Gambian people to resort to?
Ans: The Barrel of the AK47 as the ballot is not going to work.