A petition that calls for voting rights to be available to Gambians in the Diaspora has been received by the Independent Electoral Commission, activists behind the move confirmed in an email message.
The petition — available in the link below —consists of five points around the registration and voting process for Gambians abroad.
Earlier, petition advocates wrote the statement below, justifying reasons why voting rights of Gambians living abroad must be a reality.
After enduring twenty-two (22) years of dictatorship under the regime of former President Yahya Jammeh, the people of the Republic of The Gambia voted for a new president, President Adama Barrow, to lead the nation-rebuilding process of the New Gambia. Gambians living abroad played a key role in the struggle for justice and good governance that culminated in the formation of a coalition of seven political parties, which contested and won the presidential election that brought an end to Jammeh’s rule on 1st December 2016.
Although the right of every Gambian, resident at home or abroad, to vote in general elections is guaranteed in the Constitution of The Republic of The Gambia, the government under former President Jammeh failed to demonstrate the commitment and support that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) required to discharge its mandate to register Gambians living abroad to vote, as prescribed under Section 11 of the Elections Act of The Republic of The Gambia. As a result, a large number of Gambians living abroad have been disenfranchised and denied the right to fully participate in the affairs of their country.
The Gambia has now entered a new challenging phase, which all well-meaning Gambians, friends of The Gambia and the country’s development partners hope will set the foundation for a truly democratic country that fully subscribes to the universally accepted principles of good governance and transparency, to deliver peace and prosperity to the people of The Gambia. In this regard, the enfranchisement of Gambians living abroad is not only a right but a necessity for the consolidation of the democratic gains of the New Gambia. Like our Senegalese counterparts, Gambians living abroad should be allowed, without undue burden, to take part in elections at home.
We the undersigned respectfully demand of the IEC of The Republic of The Gambia to discharge, with absolute urgency, its constitutional duty to register Gambians living abroad to take part in the upcoming constitutional referendum and subsequent elections, in accordance with the Constitution and Section 11 of the Elections Act of The Gambia. Specifically:
We ask the IEC to announce a timeline for the registration of Gambians living abroad;
We ask the IEC to clearly spell out the registration process for Gambians living abroad;
We ask the IEC to announce the registration centres abroad, where Gambians living abroad shall be registered;
We ask the IEC to clearly spell out what documents Gambians living abroad would need in order to be registered to vote; and
We ask the IEC to clearly spell out how Gambians living abroad shall vote in elections and how votes cast outside the country shall be counted.