Thursday, March 31, 2011

ELECTIONS: IEC Sounds The Alarm, as Presidential, National, Local Gov't Elections Approach

NEWS BANJUL THE GAMBIA (MB)- Upon successful completion of the voter registration exercise, the Presidential elections will be held on 24th November 2011 to be followed by the National Assembly Elections in the first quarter of 2012 and the Local Government Elections a year later, in the first quarter of 2013 respectively, Alhaji Musutapha Carayol Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission of The Gambia (IEC) has said.
 Carayol made these revelations at a press conference marking the launching of the electoral calendar for the 2011-2013 electoral cycle at the IEC headquarters along Bertil Harding Highway 30th March, 2011 in the midst of Journalists, politicians, and UN Agencies.
At the press conference, two political parties were absent in what the IEC Chairman says is "typographical error" that axed the two parties i.e National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD) and National Action Democratic Movement (NDAM).
 IEC Chairman then urged all and sundry to desist from attesting for the under aged and aliens noting that this is a crime in the laws of The Gambia. ' The Gambian voter ID is exclusively for eligible Gambians."
  The commission has in exercise of its mandate under section 16 of the Election Degree, as mandated, and section 43, subsection 1(a) of the constitution of the republic of The Gambia, published in the National Gazette of 22nd March, 2011 the conduct of  general registration of voters.
 According to Carayol, the general voter registration of voters will be conducts over a period of 42 days, starting from the 2nd May to 12th June, all Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays inclusive pointing out that all the voters cards issued during the general registration of voters in 2001 and the subsequent supplementary registration registration of voters of 2004 and 2006 will be invalid as of 1st May 2011. 
  He says, the IEC is targeting 800,000 eligible voters but was quick to say that the commission is still prepared to register about 1.2 million voters country with each polling station of 800 voters.  
  Chairman Carayol made it clear that non Gambian and Gambians in the diaspora will not vote due to lack of funding, while thanking the central government of the Republic of The Gambia for exclusively financing the entire registration of voters exercise which costs D65,297,506.10 (Sixty Five Million, Two Hundred and Ninety Seven Thousand Five Hundred and Sixty Dalasis and Tent Bututs.
Carayol told the gathering that, if funds are available, Gambians in the diaspora will be given the opportunity to voter like any other citizen of The Gambia. He added that during the period of the general registration, a total of 200 registration team will be deployed across the country saying that it is the object of the commission to bring registration teams to the door step of all voters, explaining further that some changes will be effected in the number of registration centres whilst new centres will be opened to accommodate growing settlements and to provide better access to electoral services to voters.
 The commission, he said will conduct a new digital voter registration system which will be supported by CODE Inc, an internationally recognised Canadian company, with the required capacity to implement The Gambia's voter registration exercise. The new digital voter registration, Chairman Carayol explained that it take four to five minutes for one to get his/her voter cards at the same spot noting that information technology literates officers have been trained on the digital voter registration.
As the used Polaroid cameras and films are no longer available in the market, the IEC, he explained, goes for the digital voter registration, as it is more economical to adopt and is more coast effective and sustainable, said Carayol.
 This system, he went on has in adequate security features integrated in both the voter card and the data capture processes to ensure an accurate list of voters, he adds, the voters card will be use for ten years before being replace, this he said is according to the Gambian constitution and the Election Degree.
 he again, implored on all eligible Gambians to come out in large numbers and register during the general registration saying that it is important to know when a registration team will be at your area to enable you to register on time and closer to where you live. In addition, "this will effectively be very helpful to both the voter and the commission cognizant of voting time and distance to polling centres during future elections, "he advised.
 He informed political parties present that all political parties that IEC will invite at least one agent from each party to be with each registration team throughout the registration period, at each party's expensive but was quick to say that party representative(s) are their to observe but not to cause bring trouble to the officers saying that any political agent that is found of causing trouble will send out of the observation team, he strongly emphasized.
  He continued: "the role of the party registration agents is to observe and note down any observation for submission to their party. "They must not interfere, induce, entice and applicant for registration process. "The must not also influence, intimidate and or bar applicants from registering adding that the IEC  has the prerogative to accept any agent or send away any agent from a registration centre if found in the following acts."
     He announced that the registration exercise will followed by other important activities including the Display period and the Revising courts adding that Gambians are again urged to participate in all these activities as they are part and parcel of the registration exercise.
 "It is important to note that all these activities will be convened under a very tight time frame and so the commission implores on all Gambians to come out and register within the designated period," he debunked.
  He went to say the that commission is once again assured of success by the continuing support and cooperation of the Gambian public adding that it will be much appreciated if Gambians will come to register on time at their nearest registration centre.
   Voter education, he said forms an intrinsic part of the electoral process, it is part of the mission of the commission to embark on massive voter education campaign.
In doing so, he noted that the partnership and collaboration of the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE), Civil Society Organisations, media houses amongst other, will continue to be sought, to ensure mass participation and understanding of the electoral process. 

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