Saturday, December 19, 2015

Is Jammeh planning to hold the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections the same day?

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During a recent Joint Parliamentary Committees of the  Public Accounts and Public Enterprise (PAC/PEC), the current Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) was questioned by members about the upcoming 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections and the possibility of holding both concurrently.

The two elections are held separately and four months apart with the presidential being held first.  It would appear from the responses of the IEC Chairman, whose term on the Commission has expired and thus serving illegally, all he is waiting for to execute the new arrangement i.e. holding the presidential as well as the parliamentary elections on the same day, is his matching order from the dictator in the form of an Executive Order which is how Gambia is governed.

Interestingly, the Chairman seem to be clamoring for the switch, as a cost saving move, while in the same breath arguing against the idea because of the cost of having to handle additional ballot drums as each party candidate would have to provided with one as opposed to having a single ballot drum for all candidates if the Gambia were to switch to paper ballots as opposed to the marbles.

The parliamentarians were making a case for a switch to ballot paper while the Commission Chairman was anything but clear as to which one he prefers, leaving it up to Yaya Jammeh to decide. We hope the opposition has taken note.    

Meanwhile, the IEC Chairman's complaint that government is the sole financier of elections is of the regime's own choosing.  Jammeh made the conscious choice of refusing to make room for donors to participate in elections financing for fear that they will positively influence the atmosphere that will level the playing field for the APRC as well as the opposition parties.

Bilateral donors, including the European Union, would have preferred to be actively involved in the electoral process leading up to and including the monitoring of the elections by helping underwrite them provided they have an active role - a proposition that the regime had resisted, at least, since the 2006 presidential elections, if not earlier.