Thursday, August 27, 2015

Independent Electoral Commission Chairman Mustapha Carayol is endangering the peace

Mustapha Carayol, IEC Chairman
The Chairman of the so-called Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), a Commission that is anything but independent, has once more demonstrated his recklessness in carrying out his IEC functions, a position he's occupying illegally, by continually advancing the singular political agenda of the Gambian dictator.

Mr. Carayol must realize that he's illegally occupying a position in an institution that impacts the lives of every Gambian, at home and abroad.  Despite a letter to him, signed by the Group of Six - all of the six opposition party leaders - cautioning him, back in April 2012 that he was unconstitutionally occupying the Chairmanship of the IEC, he continues to defy the wishes of the opposition and by extension a significant portion of the Gambian electorate.  Such a contemptuous behavior is unbecoming of an election officer whose primary duty is to protect the sanctity of vote of every eligible Gambian voter. However to do so, he must be legally occupying the position.

According to Section 42, subsection 4 of the 1997 Constitution which states that "...members of the Commission shall be appointed for a period of 7 years, and may be re-appointed for one further term."  Mr. Carayol has served as member of the Commission since the inception of the IEC in 1997. He assumed the Chairmanship when the late Bishop Telewa Johnson was unceremoniously fired by the Gambian dictator for trying to implement the letter and the spirit of the law.  The late former Chairman believed in the rule of law and the sanctity of the vote.

There is little doubt that Mr. Carayol is occupying the Chairmanship illegally.  Yet, he continues to take profound decisions concerning future elections in The Gambia, backed by extensive revisions - they refer to as reforms - that he threatens to enshrine into law, further skewing the playing field by making it harder for the opposition and their supporters to exercise their right to vote.

In addition to the draconian "Electoral Reform Act of 2015" which has been recently signed into law, the IEC Chairman has announced the creation of five more constituency, increasing the number of constituencies to fifty-three.  We are told that the "IEC undertook the assignment of demarcation with a lot of cautious commitment", the IEC Chairman's lame attempt to placate Gambians.

The combination of these so-called electoral reforms is posing a great threat to the electoral landscape that is coming in right at the heels of the 2016 elections, designed to destabilize the opposition and confuse the international community by giving the impression that the reforms demanded by the opposition are being attended to by the regime when the opposite is the case.

By playing this dangerous game of tampering with the electoral laws and the constituency boundaries to tilt them in Jammeh's favor, Chairman Carayol is endangering the peace of the country.  He must stop these illegal actions of his by resigning his Chairmanship.  This is the second time we are demanding his resignation.  We did so the first time in October 2013.  The rest of the Commission members should also resign because Gambians have lost all confidence in their independence and impartiality.