By Landing Ceesay
Gambia for All [GFA] party leader said that Governors, Chiefs and Alkalolu were major actors in ‘perpetuating fraud’ in the previous elections.
“Some of us were very hopeful when our newly transitional government made a declaration to keep our local authorities governors, chiefs and the alkalolu out of partisan politics because those ‘terrible elections we had been having, preceded by terrible registrations in those exercises unfortunately these very authorities, the governors, the chiefs and the Alkalolu have been major actors in perpetuating the fraud. Whether they did it willingly or unwillingly, it is a fact that they were perceived and they did indeed participate very much in it.
“We must remember the coming against the backdrop of strong health suspicions in many quarters that previous elections for the past 20 years have been very discredited. So, discredit that it got to a point that credible external election observers have stopped coming here to observe the election. It was a strong view or belief that registrations that led to those elections had been rigged very badly,” Bakary Bunja Darboe, leader of Gambia For All partystated.
He said the slogan ‘never again’ should apply very much to the registration of voters; saying because of the bad experience with governance, with elections, with registrations in the past, that was why Gambian people voted for change in 2016.
“We don’t want a situation where we will repeat what registration in the previous 20 years or so obtained, with a lot of fraud going on which led to the registration of people who are not qualified either on the grounds of nationality or on the grounds of age. There were many stories even the authorities then could not dispel that there was nocturnal registration going on in the areas like Bakau, Tallinding Kunjang and so on. That showed how bad things went which almost led people to suspect that the electoral register was inflated. We must remember the coming against the backdrop of strong health suspicions in many quarters that previous elections for the past 20 years have been very discredited. So, discredited that it got to a point that credible external election observers have boycotted coming here to observe the elections,” he said.
While responding to President Barrow’s comment at State House during a meeting with the chiefs and alkalolu, BB Darboe said when the transitional government led by President Barrow, announced that under the new order the local authorities will be kept out of partisan politics, it gave them hope; but the same president last week asked those people [chiefs and alkalolu] to take part in partisan politics.
Darboe however, raised his party’s concern over President Barrow’s comment because the local authorities are responsible for issuing attestation to people to obtain voter cards.
“We have seen credible civil society organizations report that minors are obtaining attestation [to] something that has happened in the previous years. Let us look at it, who are the actors of these attestation documents; these are mainly our local authorities, governors, chiefs and Alkalolu. Sadly, despite this coalition government keeping away these local authorities from partisan politics the reality is they are very much in between partisan politics. Only last week, the president was addressing alkalolu and [the] chiefs we all listened to him. He told them that ‘you owe it to belong to a political party’ and these are the very people who are supposed to give these attestation forms. Obviously, this is a very unsatisfactory situation and it’s an explanation why there is a large turnout of people claiming to register using attestation,” Darboe stated.
BB Darboe, said the least one can say is that the process is marred by controversy from the first week and throughout the period; saying there have been a lot of persistent controversies, many instances and that there has been incidence of disorder at registration centres leading to temporary interruption of the process.
The veteran politician said all registrations are important, but there is something special about the recent one because it came just on the eve of a cycle of elections, not just the December 4th presidential election but also others.
The GFA leader and former PPP government Vice President made these remarks at a press conference organized by his party on the 8th of July 2021 at his compound in Fajara.