Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Darboe bemoan low voter registration turnout, slams 'self-appointed' verifiers

UDP Leader Ousainou Darboe
Opposition leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP) Ousainou Darboe has revealed to The Voice that he visited a number of voter registration centers, and there is no problem generally, the only thing is that there is low turnout in some areas.
“The issue of attestation is really a problem throughout the country, you find self-appointed citizenship verifiers, verifying the citizenship of people they have never set eyes on,” he told our reporter in an interview at his home (Kotu) on Friday.
“These people are abusing the process and it is known that they are people, who identified with a specific political party, but the issue of registration is not a party issue, it is a national issue.”

He warned that arming individuals (non citizens) to vote means giving them the authority to determine the political future of this country in every aspect, because at the end of the day those who are voted in by those voters will preside over the affairs of the nation, by formulating and implementing policies.
“I visited one registration center and I was told that over 700 people registered were issue with attestations by a group of five people, how possible is it that these five people know all the 700 people,” he asked.
According to him, when the parliament included “attestation” as one of the means of knowing one’s citizenship, it was not intended to be abuse. But these “self-appointed” verifiers are abusing the process, they believed that it will be in the benefit of the political party they support, but failed to realise that they are doing more harm to the nation.
He note that no individual or party should abuse the process with the hope that it will be in their benefit, it can be counter productive, because the person that are trying to secure the card may not vote for you.
He observed that if non-Gambians are armed with our national documents they can challenge the authorities not to pay residential permits, and this is not in the interest of the nation.

Possible suit
He admitted that they cannot take any steps at this point to resolve the issue, but at the end of the registration, individuals and political parties has the right to challenge the registration process at the courts.
In fact, he said they will challenge the “five who attested for 700 people” including an under-aged girl and if they are found to be at fault, the consequences of law will be applied.

Mr. Darboe stressed that he never think for a moment that it is impossible for opposition parties to come together.
“There is a possibility of coming together and there is no doubt about that, no matter how short the time is,” he said.

In a vox-pop recently, some Gambians told The Voice that they will neither register nor vote in the upcoming cycle of elections, this they said is due to a lack of credibility of the ruling and opposition parties.

Greatest mistake
However, Darboe said these people are committing the “greatest mistake”. The presidential election is not the only elections, the parliamentary and local government elections are all on the way and a responsible citizen cannot abstain from registering.
“Occasions may arrive between the time of registration and the presidential elections which will make the person to conclude that he had made the greatest mistake. Every Gambian should register, not only to register but also vote in the forthcoming election,” he said.
“Those who fail to register for “flimsy reasons” will, before the end of the electoral circle regret their non-registration, because the issue of opposition parties coming together will be resolved.”

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