|IEC Chariman Alhaji Mustapha L. Carayol|
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in Banjul, has said it will grant an official pardon to “suspected cheats” who have registered twice, foreigners who have acquired voter cards and the under aged, provided that they surrender their cards to the IEC before June 30, 2011.
The Commission’s decision not to pursue a legal suit against these “suspects” from now until the end of this month, was revealed during a press briefing at the IEC Office in Banjul on June 23, marking the end of the national voter registration exercise.
The Chairman, Mustapha L. Carayol revealed that six cases of double voter registrations were discovered, all within the Kanifing Municipality in the first week of registration and believes there could be more of such cases during the whole process.
The Commission is currently uploading the data for the six weeks of registration and it will do the matching of each registered voter against the others to identify double registrations.
“After the first week of registration, matching was done to search for cases of double registration. Six cases were found and the names of these “suspected” double registered voters were sent to the police. As at this press conference, only one has been arrested so far,” Mr. Carayol said.
“I wish to reiterate my appeal to all those who by intent or accidentally registered twice to honorably surrender one of the cards, failure of which the law will take its course. Surrender your cards before its too late for the law will surely take its course if one is found wanting.”
Section 110 subsection (d) of the Elections Act states that “A person who registers to vote in more than one constituency without applying for transfer of registration, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years and shall be incapable during the period for five years from the date of his conviction of being registered as a voter or voting at any election.”
Section 110 subsections (a) and (e) of the same Act also states that “A person who knowingly makes a false declaration or statement on any claim for registration either as a claimant or on behalf of a claimant, or induces or procures any other person to register to vote knowing that such a person is prohibited or not qualified or entitled by any law to register to vote, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years and shall be incapable during the period of five years from the date of his conviction of being registered as a voter or voting at any election.”
During the nationwide voter registration process, the IEC encountered some problems and as the Chairman explained, these were teething problems involving the generators, registration equipments, a missing and a damaged laptop.
A laptop which was being used at the Dippakunda Mosque registration Centre was stolen. It is yet to be found.
“This was an unfortunate situation for seemingly there is no fear of God for stealing at a place of worship,” Mr Carayol argued. “The staff of the IEC had their own share of hostility meted out to them. The registration team assigned at the Old Jeshwang Lower Basic School Registration Centre were attacked, the security personnel injured and the laptop destroyed beyond repairs.”
However, Mr Carayol noted that the culprit has since been charged to court, found guilty and handed a prison sentenced.
Nominations and campaign
The IEC said it has set November 10, 2011 as the date for the nomination of presidential candidates, while the campaign will begin on November 12 and ends on November 22, 2011. The later will be published in the Gazette as dictated by Section 85 of the Elections Act.
Provisional voter list
With commendations of the successful completion of the voter registration exercise and disapprovals in some quarters of irregularities during the process conducted in a space of 44 days between May 5 and June 17, the IEC has announced a “provisional number of 837, 029 registered voters” in The Gambia.
The Commission had said earlier that its target was to register up to 800, 000 voters. The provisional list of voters will be printed and pasted at all registration centres across the country for public viewing for a period of 10 days.
- Author - Modou S. Joof