QUESTION OF THE DAY

It is important for the Gambian electorate to understand the process of nominating their candidate. According to Elections Act candidates are supposed to return their nomination papers to the returning officer.

According to section 46 of the Act the returning officer should satisfy himself/herself that all the constitutional or legal requirements of a candidate have been complied with. If that is the case he or she would accept the nomination papers and issue the candidate with an acceptance of nomination form. A nomination process does end there. Any voter is entitled to inspect the nomination papers of the candidates and make objection in writing addressed to the returning officer stating the grounds of his objection; and without delay the returning must decide on the validity of the objection and make a decision which is conveyed to the prospective candidate without delay.

In case of an adverse decision the aggrieved person has a right to appeal against the decision in writing presented to the Commission within two days of the decision and the Commission is required to make a final decision to uphold or reject the decision of the returning officer. The Commission is not bound by time to make a binding decision. Section 49 subsection (6) of the Elections Act states:

“Nothing contained  in this Part with respect to limitation of time or otherwise shall  affect  a decision  of the Commission  whether  to accept  or  reject  a nomination paper.”

This confirms that the IEC is not compelled to make a decision within any time frame. However natural justice and the principles of equity should not compel it to bind the hands of a candidate while others are running and still expect the race to be given a clean of health as a fair one. Justice dictates that the decision should be taken without undue delay. Otherwise miscarriage of justice could be alleged.

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