The Gambia’s rubber-stamping National Assembly this evening passed into law the infamous Electoral Amendment Bill that aims to throw out opposition from participating in elections. The controversial bill, tabled by Secretary General Lamin Nyabally, was passed by the ruling APRC deputies with slight amendments.
Due to unexplained reasons, the bill could not be presented before deputies on June 23rd and 30th. It was earlier rumoured that a split within the APRC over putting the country’s democracy on sale had led to cancellation of the bill purportedly sponsored by the Independent Electoral Commission.
The endorsed bill reduced the deposit for presidential, parliamentary and local government candidates by half. That means half a million dalasi, 50, 000 25, 000 and 10, 000 for presidential, parliamentary and local government candidates, respectively.
Another twist on the passed legislation is the question of deposit refunds. Presidential candidates who gets 40 percent of the votes will be refunded. National Assembly and Mayoral candidates will be refunded provided they amass 20 percent of the valid votes cast.
The legislation that attracts anger and frustration among opposition, human rights and civil society activist maintains a portion that requires political parties to be resident in the country and allow the IEC to investigate their source of income.
Gambians are now waiting for the opposition parties’ reaction to the current development. All of them lampooned the APRC for shutting the doors to participatory democracy in a country that in the past bragged as the champion of democracy, political pluralism, the rule of law, among others.