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Mr. Alieu Momar N’jie
Chairperson, Independent Electoral Commission
KSMD, The Gambia
17 October, 2016
Dear Commissioner Alieu Momar Njie:
Request for information
The Right 2 Know Coalition-Gambia extends its greetings and compliments to you and the IEC. We write in the true spirit of partnership, with the aim of assisting your Commission better deploy its mandate at this critical time, as The Gambia heads for elections on 1st December, 2016. The R2K Coalition has sought to obtain information on how these upcoming polls are being conducted by your good offices, but has not been successful. The IEC website is inaccessible and has remained so for well over a year. The Commission’s URL: http://www.iec.gm/ is not working and has a message which reads: “IEC.GM is Under Construction. Come Back Soon.”
As the lead agency tasked with conducting elections in The Gambia, the IEC’s awesome responsibility of upholding and adhering to its legal mandate and principles of integrity and fair play, cannot be overstated. We realize the responsibility entrusted to it by the constitution and the various legislative frameworks that legalizes its existence. It is in this regard that the R2K Coalition-Gambia wishes to enquire from the IEC several critical aspects of the management of the elections process as we inch closer to the December Presidential elections in 2016 and the National Assembly elections in 2017.
The R2K Coalition Gambia is therefore asking the IEC to provide answers to the following questions:
The Gambia has not officially released the 2013 decennial national census. The last census that was officially released was in 2003. The unexplained delay in publishing the results of what was a well-funded, planned and executed 2013 census enumeration, makes it impossible to conduct any verification exercises against statistics presented by any state or non-state actor on the country’s population, socio-economic and age brackets to mention but a few social segments of the national make up. It is now on record that the voter list has ballooned from 796,929 in 2011 to 886,578 in 2016- an increase of almost 90,000 voters- in a country of 1.8 million.
1. What population data is the IEC using in its registration exercise?
2. What other data is informing the voter register?
The Electoral Amendment Act 2015, which was presented as a Bill on June 30, 2015, prior to passage of the Elections Amendment on July 7, 2015; and Gazetted as Act No: 6 of 2015, has been used in the past to urge political parties to register.
A deadline of March 31st 2016 was given by the then IEC Chairperson, Mr. Carayol, for all political parties to register. Notwithstanding the IEC’s use of the Amendment Act, it has, as recently as 6 September 2016, made official pronouncements on the conducting of the polls, in which the Elections Amendment Act was never featured or cited. Instead the 1996 and subsequent provisions of the constitution and the elections Act were cited.
. Which electoral Act is IEC using to conduct the 2016 Presidential and 2017 National Assembly elections?
From 14 January to 12 March 2016, voter supplementary registration by the IEC, since the passage of the Amendment Act 2015 was undertaken, the data was as follows: Banjul: 649, KMC: 5,001, Brikama 13,039, Kerewan 6,245, Mansakonko 2,732, Janjanbureh 9,639 and Basse 7242 respectively. Janjanbureh, which is the least populated in all the districts listed, had the highest number of registered voters. It also had the highest number of registered voters, more than Banjul, Mansakonko and KMC combined.
4. What informed the results of the IEC’s supplementary voter registration of 14 January to 12 March 2016?
On or about January 27th 2016, the previous Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Alhaji Mustapha Carayol, confirmed that the development of a biometric voters' registration process will cost the government 33 million dalasi (US$833,000) at the time of calculation.
5. Who/which company was contracted to supply the BVR technology and was there an open tender process?
6. Has the IEC finalized the procurement of the BVR?
7. What was the eventual cost and payment made for the BVR?
On or about 11 February 2015, the previous Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Alhaji Mustapha Carayol, explained to the PAC in the National Assembly that IEC spent D40 million in 2011, and said if they are to combine the two elections (Presidential and National Assembly polls) it could go up to 120 million dalasis or more.
8. What was the budget for 2016/2017 elections?
9. How much of that budget has been met?
10. Who are the donors?
11. How much did each door pledge?
12. How much did each donor honour and when?
13. How much is Gambia government financing?
14. Has IEC or its Commissioners received any gifts from President Yaya Jammeh and what are those gift?
15.Has IEC or its commissioners received any gifts from non-governmental organisations/development partners?
6. Why is the IEC Website not accessible?
17. When will the IEC website be accessible?
We now wish to lean on the principles of the ECOWAS Protocol A/SP1/12/01 on Democracy and Good Governance Supplementary to the Protocol relating to the Mechanism For Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security’s Section II- Elections, Article 3: The bodies responsible for organising the elections shall be independent or neutral and shall have the confidence of all the political actors. Where necessary, appropriate national consultations shall be organised to determine the nature and the structure of the bodies; Article 5: The voters’ lists shall be prepared in a transparent and reliable manner, with the collaboration of the political parties and voters who may have access to them whenever the need arises; Article 6: The preparation and conduct of elections and the announcement of results shall be done in a transparent manner; and Article 8: Member States shall use the services of civil society organisations involved in electoral matters to educate and enlighten the public on the need for peaceful elections devoid of all acts of violence;
The African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance, which came into force in February 2012, which Gambia has not ratified but signed on 29 January, 2008, which states in Article 17, under Democratic Elections, that:
“State parties must establish and strengthen independent and impartial electoral commissions responsible for the management of elections”; and
The African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, which Gambia ratified on 30 April 2009, which is in force. Under Art 9:
“Each State Party shall adopt such legislative and other measures to give effect to the right of access to any information that is required to assist in the fight against corruption and related offences.”
These principles are the corner stone of the R2K-Gambia team’s campaign, which is why we demand access to information that legally must be made available to all citizens as a right. We hope that the IEC will also embrace these principles and ensure that Gambians, especially in these elections, are afforded the opportunity to be equipped with the right information, at the right time to inform their decisions. It is also imperative that citizens are afforded the opportunity to cross reference and verify the election process.
The R2K Coalition is therefore looking forward to receiving feedback on the request for information from the IEC on matters that we deem fundamental in any democracy, and absolutely critical to the delivery of free, fair, and transparent elections.
R2K Coalition- Gambia
R2K Gambia is a made up of a grouping of individuals with professional backgrounds ranging from geology, demographics, economics, international relations and law, communications, and academia. But all members are human rights activists. We are located in US, UK, West and Southern Africa. We are a non-partisan entity that focuses on rule of law and democracy, good governance, human rights and the principles of access to information.
Disclosure: I am a member of the R2K Gambia