By MUHAMMED S. BAH
Mr. Alieu Momar Njie, the Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), yesterday, Monday 23 May, 2016, told the National Assembly members that there will be a continuation of the replacement of voter’s cards for a period of four months from 1st June to 30th September, 2016.
The IEC Chair made this announcement before the members of the joint Public Accounts and Public Enterprises Committee (PAC/PEC) of the National Assembly during the review of the electoral commission’s
Annual Report and Audited Financial Statement for 2014.
During the scrutiny of the reports, the deputies raised many issues
regarding the work of the IEC and among which is the demarcation of constituency boundaries, the period allowed for official campaigning by political parties during elections, the recent political crisis involving the members of the United Democratic Party (UDP), etc.
For his part, Hon. Samba Jallow, the Minority Leader, described the 14 days campaign period given to political parties by the IEC as too short and needs to be increased.
He also touched on the challenges that opposition parties face when applying for permits, adding that it always takes a long time before the police issue permit.
Hon. Bah said the authority to be issuing permits for meetings should be the IEC and not the police. He said this should have been captured in the newly amended electoral laws but was not included until the law was passed.
The other PAC/PEC members also raised concerns and asked for answers or clarifications.
In responding to the some of the concerns raised, the IEC Chairman noted that they are only empowered to issue permits to political parties during the run-up to elections. He said the Commission also provides media platform for parties during this period.
“After this period, political parties have the right to apply for permit from the police as it’s not the duty of the IEC,” said Mr. Njie.
On the current political crisis, the IEC Chair said they have been working with political parties to promote inter- party dialogue, adding that this is the reason why the Inter- Party Committee (IPC) is setup.
On the issue of the constituency demarcation, Mr. Sambujang Njie, the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), said they will be providing stickers on the day of election to be attached to the voters’ cards affected by the change of constituencies. He said the polling stations remain the same.
The IEC report was finally adopted by the members of the PAC/PEC.
The Gambia Tourism Board report was also adopted by the joint committee.