By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
The Gambia’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has announced that the Parliamentary Elections will proceed in the Foni Region after some ten thousand people were affected following clashes between Senegalese Soldiers and MFDC Separatists in mid-March 2022. Independent candidate for Foni Kansala, Mr Abdoulie Bojang believes that the elections must proceed in Foni and that the authorities must guarantee the safety of voters come 9th April 2022.
GFA Replacement to Submit Additional Signatures
Following the death of the Gambia for All (GFA) Party candidate, Mr Lamin Njie for Kiang West Constituency, GFA has submitted a fresh nomination form to the IEC. GFA is led by former Vice President and Minister under President Jawara, Bakary Bunja Dabo, a long-serving member of the People’s Progressive Party. Dabo’s GFA party has fielded two candidates and is seeking to make it three candidates in the 9th April 2022 Parliamentary Elections.
A GFA press release issued yesterday noted that Mr Lamin Kambai Marong has been unanimously selected by the Committee. “Mr Marong is presently the Principal of Muslim High School with a Master’s degree in education and many years of experience as a teacher and a social worker. He was once the President of the Teachers Union,” read the statement.
Speaking to the Regional Officer for Mansakonko Administrative Area, Mr Lamin Jadama he revealed that Mr Marong’s documents have all been accepted except for his nomination forms. All candidates are required to submit 300 signatures from registered voters in their constituency to the IEC. According to Mr Jadama, the GFA candidate has been given until 2nd April 2022 to bring additional signatures to qualify to contest.
Elections to Proceed in Foni Region
The IEC issued a press release announcing “that the 9th April 2022 National Assembly Elections will be conducted as scheduled. Elections will be held in all 53 Constituencies in The Gambia,” read the statement.
Since last week the IEC has indicated that it is reviewing plans to conduct elections in the Foni Region. This week the IEC highlights that it has “conducted an assessment of the situation in [the] Fonis and has concluded that the situation is conducive enough to conduct elections. However, the Commission will continue to monitor the situation”.
Our reporter reached out to three candidates running in Foni who conducted a press conference last week calling for the Government to address the Foni Crisis. Only one candidate responded to our request with another candidate promising a future update. Independent candidate Abdoulie Bojang running for Foni Kansala told Gainako that “if they can assure the security of the voters then there is no issue with” the elections proceeding.
In Mr Bojang’s view “what is important is that people are safe and elections is done in an environment of calm”.
When asked to describe the situation in the Foni Region and if there was calm, Mr Bojang stated that “calm is returning, I don’t think there is absolute calm. I made enquiries some villages have started to return from yesterday. I’ve not heard any gunfire or shelling”.
Our reporter questioned Mr Bojang to explain if candidates have been able to campaign normally. According to Mr Bojang, “the campaign is going on as I have conducted my rallies and other people have conducted their rallies”. However, “there are some instances when reaching out to certain people” has been difficult because they have fled to seek refuge. To compensate for this he has been using a community radio to campaign.
“Campaign has not been 100% smooth but I can give it a 60% rating,” said Mr Bojang.
Speaking about the possibility of the elections being suspended in Foni Mr Bojang believes that the Commission does “not have the legal authority to extend the term or the mandate of the National Assembly. Also, you don’t know when absolute calm is going to return. If Foni is in crisis and you’re talking about the crisis in Foni you must need representatives to talk about that”.
According to Mr Bojang, you cannot have a situation where the National Assembly is sitting without Foni being represented. “This is most important for Foni to have representation so that they can work out the crisis in Foni with the Government and all stakeholders,” said the Foni Kansala Independent candidate.