Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The rigging of the 2016/17 elections has commenced

Ballot boxes Gambian-style 
Mr. Alieu Momar Njie, the new IEC Chairman held a press conference to announce that almost 90,000 eligible voters have been added to the electoral rolls bring the total number of eligible voters to a little under 890,000.

This number represents an 11% increase from the 2011 figure which was presented by the former IEC Chairman a little under 800,000.

Since the conclusion of the 2013 Population and Housing Census, no final figure has been published.  The 1.9 million that the regime said was the size of Gambia's population was a preliminary figure.  And as far as we are aware, the figure is still preliminary.  Final census figures have not been published and, as far as we aware, no public explanation emanated from government as to the reason for the delay in releasing the final and definitive population figures.

As things stand, government is using preliminary, instead of final figures for planning and budgeting purposes since 2011 without telling Gambians what is holding up the validation process. The 2013 census figures must be finalized immediately and the results published for it to be the official figures.  It is our view that the electoral process is incomplete until the official population figures have been finalized.

Back to the voter registration process that had been fraught with lack of transparency dating back to the 2001 election cycle, if not before.  90,000 new voters being added to the roll, representing an 11% increase from the 2011 figure raises a lot of eyebrows given that the Gambia has been losing its youth through the phenomenon referred to locally as The Back Way,  The rate of out migration of the youthful population of the Gambia has been so alarming that it caught the attention of the world.

The Independent Electoral Commission ought to know better than releasing global voter registration figures without disaggregating them by constituency.  The number of voters registered in each of the 53 Constituencies must be shown.  It is only then that Gambians can determine whether the figures presented do indeed add up.  If the integrity of the voter registration process is doubt, the entire electoral process will be questioned.  The IEC Chairman is giving us all the reasons needed to declare the entire electoral process rigged.

We were prompted to publish this post because of the hurriedly convened press conference of the Chairman of the IEC in advance of the completion of our data collection exercise - including up-dating our migration figures in an attempt to shed more light on issue.