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Posted - 09 Jul 2024 :  17:51:29  Show Profile Send toubab1020 a Private Message  Reply with Quote

From The Standard Newspaper 9/7/2024


By Olimatou Coker

Election Watch Committee (EWC), a coalition of eight civic society organisations and of the most credible election observer groups in the country, has joined calls on the National Assembly Members to delete the provision allowing alkalo attestation from the Elections Bill.

A bill to reform The Gambia’s electoral laws is currently before the National Assembly for consideration and approval.

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That deals with, among other things, the controversial alkalo (village head) and district chiefs (sefolu) attestation which has been blamed for widespread abuse and illegal registration of unqualified voters in the last voter registration exercise. Although none of the political players made it their business to challenge these abuses in the revising courts, most observers agreed the abuses were widespread.

Addressing a press conference on its position paper on the 2021 election at Kanifing over the weekend, Ansuman Camara, chairperson of the EWC said his committee believes that every Gambian should have a birth certificate, identification card or passport and the government through the Gambia Immigration Department should work to facilitate the issuance of ID cards to people across the country.

“The issuance of attestation by Alkalo or Seyfolu can be abused as evident in the 2021 general voter registration exercise where EWC observers reported that 385 of 472 reports indicated that some or many applicants utilised an attestation form of identification. Also, 11 of 472 reports indicated that all applicants used this method to register,” Camara said.

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The position paper aims to provide information and guidance to the National Assembly and facilitate the improvement of electoral reforms. It also provides background information on why The Gambia needs electoral reform, and how this could be achieved.

The Election Watch Committee (EWC) is a coalition comprising seven diverse organisations, each bringing unique expertise and backgrounds to the table. They include Peace Ambassadors-The Gambia (PAG), Activista, National Youth Parliament (NYP), Think Young Women (TYW), Beakanyang, Peace Hub – The Gambia (PHTG), and The Gambia Federation of the Disabled (GFD). This collaboration is dedicated to monitoring the electoral processes within The Gambia.

Established in 2021, EWC is an initiative of Peace Ambassadors – The Gambia and has observed the entire election cycle in The Gambia. The coalition is young but its parent bodies like Peace Ambassadors and many organisations in the coalition have been observing elections in The Gambia since 2006, and as such has garnered a wealth of experience in election management, monitoring, electoral law, and reforms. “This therefore gives the coalition the merit to make recommendations to the National Assembly and facilitate the enactment of electoral laws that will improve governance, and free and transparent elections in The Gambia,” Mr Camara said.
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