refundable fee of 10,000 Dalasis if one has 40 percent of the votes. If the bill is passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the President, candidates during National Assembly would pay a non refundable fee of 100,000 Dalasis instead of a refundable fee of Five Thousand Dalasis if one has 20 percent of the votes cast.  Mayoral candidates would pay a  non refundable fee of  50,000 Dalasis instead of a refundable deposit of 2500 Dalasis if  one has 15 percent of the votes cast. Councillors would pay a non refundable fee of 10,000 Dalasis instead of a refundable deposit of 1250 Dalasis if one has 15 percent of the votes cast. Section 26 of the Constitution states “Every citizen of The Gambia of full age and capacity shall have the right, without unreasonable restrictions – (b)    to vote and stand for elections at genuine periodic elections for public office, which elections shall be by universal and equal suffrage and be held by secret ballot; (Emphasis ours) In a country where only three candidates have been standing for Presidential elections for the past 10 years despite the deposit being fixed at 10,000 Dalasis, there is no justification for raising the deposit to 1 Million Dalasis. Hence the amendment is unreasonable and unjustifiable and would constitute an unreasonable restriction in the exercise of political rights as enshrined in Section 26 of the Constitution. Furthermore, the executive is seeking to make it a law for political parties to pay a registration fee of 1 Million Dalasis and a registered membership of 10, 000 members with at least 1000 members from each administrative area. The Executive members of the party would have to be resident in the Gambia and the party has to have a secretariat in each administrative area. However, nothing is mentioned in the Bill regarding state funding of political parties. Section 25 Subsection states that freedom to political Association. Any imposition of non refundable and exorbitant fees without provision of state funding of political parties. Electoral reform is not a one sided affair. The country has a mature opposition which also has interest in political reform. What is needed is the convening of an interparty conference to review all proposals for electoral reform and form a consensus. Anybody who is afraid of such a move does not have the nation and people at heart.]]>

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