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By Landing Nyassi, Norway
When a person is given the mandate to serve an institution he or she should play by the rules and honorably step aside when his or her mandate is over. These are the attributes that Mr. Carayol the chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of the Gambia seriously lacks. It is categorically stated in the constitution that no member of IEC shall serve for more than 14yrs. Mr. Carayol has served IEC for more than 14yrs; hence his continual occupation of the seat of chairman of IEC is totally unconstitutional and should therefore leave that seat now! To me this should be the rallying point of electoral reform in the Gambia. The opposition parties in the country should continue to call for the immediate resignation of the IEC chairman, not only his resignation but also to be given a voice in the eventual appointment of a new chairman to the electoral body.
The constitutional provisions surrounding elections in the Gambia are a complete sham. When most African countries including neighboring country Senegal are sticking to the second round of voting in the event the incumbent fails to secure more than 50% of electoral votes, Gambia’s rubber stamp national assembly decided to abolish it. The Gambian populace should not play complacent in this matter; everyone should add his or her voice for the restoration of second round of voting and complete revision of electoral laws.
I don’t belong to the camp that believes that opposition parties are not relevant in the struggle for democratic change in the Gambia. I hold them in high esteem because they are the ones on the ground confronting the pathetic state of affairs. They must be commended for boycotting or as they put it (forced to stay out of the elections arena) both in the presidential and national assembly elections.
We believe it was done in a bid to cripple the credibility of the ruling party and provoke a need for electoral reform. But they should have taken it beyond boycotting elections; they should continue to push for the resignation of Mr. Carayol if possible through civil disobedience. More political rallies should be organized to sensitize the population on the need for the resignation of IEC Chairman and the revision of electoral provisions. Electoral reform would definitely not come on a silver platter. It is high time the group of six come out with a tangible strategy to achieve a desired electoral reform. Although it is a good idea to involve a mediator like Jesse Jackson but how willing would the regime be to involve in such a venture and on whose terms would it be? The group of 6 should create the need for mediation. That need would no doubt emerge if the opposition confronts the regime from all angles. Then they would have an upper hand to dictate the terms of mediation. If the opposition is seriously thinking of participating in the 2016 presidential election on a level ground they should start work in earnest.
There is no iota of doubt that with daily problems engulfing Gambia and the dalasi taking a nose dive majority of the citizenry desire change. If the sky above Gambia could speak and if the meandering river Gambia could speak, they would all echo that hardship. Hardship which if spread out would cover the length and breadth of the country. Time is not on our side as every arm of government is seriously decaying therefore all hands should be on deck to salvage our country. We urge opposition parties to take a great leap towards electoral reform by demanding the resignation of IEC Chairman both in words and actions.