Saturday, November 19, 2016

IEC is still the corrupt and compromised institution under Alieu Momar Njie as under Mustapha Carayol

Sidi Sanneh 
Joseph Henry Joof, a Gambian lawyer of long standing, who served as Jammeh's Attorney General, was denied outright the right to present his candidature for the presidency by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

And according to Mr. Joof, the IEC acted under instructions of the Gambian dictator not to allow him to go through the nomination process. which resulted in being denied the papers necessary to fulfill the legal requirements to be an official presidential candidate.  He leveled these charges against the IEC and Yaya Jammeh at an online radio station recently.

According to Mr. Joof's own narrative, he was denied access to the process that he was entitled to as a citizen by staff of the IEC giving him the runaround at Jammeh's directives.

His agent who went to the IEC offices to collect nomination forms was arrested and jailed within the IEC premises suggesting that there are some within the Commission who are actually security agents posing as staffers of the Commission charged with the responsibility of overseeing the entire electoral system. When Mr. Joof's agent was released after spending the night in cells, he was released with the warning never to set foot in the IEC offices.

Jammeh has made no secret of the fact that his regime is financing the operations of the IEC.  He made it known when he was at the Commission to deposit his nomination forms.  He said that since the donors have refused to finance the elections, it was incumbent upon him to step up to use his personal funds.

The Chairman had publicly thanked Jammeh for providing them with vehicles, furniture etc. to facilitate the Commission's work and his subservience to the Gambian dictator was on full display as the state-controlled television cameras were trained on him receiving instructions on how to conduct the affairs of the Commission.  And when a son of the Chairman is already on record declaring Yaya Jammeh the winner before the election campaign is in full throttle raises further questions about the integrity of the voting process under the charge of the IEC,  A source said, the declaration was such a concern, given its source, Jammeh's office prepared a statement disassociating itself from it. Why the official statement of renunciation was not released remains unclear according to sources.  

With Jammeh's intimate involvement in and influence over the IEC, a favorable outcome of next month's presidential elections is inevitable unless, of course, the Coalition of the opposition parties and their supporters are extra vigilant in monitoring the process, especially the actual voting at the voting stations.  The training of polling agents by the Coalition thus becomes extremely important.

The European Union was one of the donors that decided to withhold funds to the regime of Yaya Jammeh as part of a broader sanction regime that came into effect when he refused to meet the 17-point EU demands relating to most human rights abuses.  The EU Parliament recently passed a resolution threatening targeted sanctions against the regime unless there is significant improvement in the human rights environment.

The cumulative effects of these actions may have resulted in Jammeh decision to refuse the EU access to observe the upcoming elections despite Jammeh's urging his Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission to invite observers to come to Banjul and "observer the credibility of the elections" which is of primary concern of every Gambian and the international community is no exception.  Similar concern was expressed last week when the head of the UN regional office for West Africa visiting Banjul called for a credible, transparent and a "level playing field" for the vote.

It is unclear if other international election monitors will be allowed access or decline to send observers.  During the 2011 elections, the regional body ECOWAS refused to send observers because of the intimidation of opposition parties and their supporters.