By: Landing Ceesay
National Assembly Member for Serekunda West Madi N.K Ceesay said the Barrow government is not interested or committed to seeing Gambians living overseas vote in the 2021 Presidential election.
He said this in his capacity as a member of the National Assembly select committee on human rights and constitutional matters, while speaking on ‘The Brunch’ one of our weekly talk shows which airs on Saturdays.
“As a member of the National Assembly select committee on human rights and constitutional matters, we were given the task to scrutinize the diaspora voting bill, we then invited the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we asked the IEC Chairman which law did they want to conduct the next election. He said the old electoral law. We then asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs whether they are ready for the diaspora to vote in the next election. The Minister said no they are not ready. That’s why I said the government is neither interested nor committed to the diaspora voting in the next election,” Madi stated.
Ceesay went on to say that the government is very much aware that the 1997 Constitution is very clear about not making any major electoral law when a major election is six months away; saying, “we are now in April, and very soon we will be in May and June when is done the subject and the government knows that they cannot do any meaningful thing within these two months.
“This bill of diaspora voting should have come to the parliament much earlier but the government deliberately held on to the bill and waited till this last minute and brought it before us knowing fully well that there will be a lot of challenges. If you look at the challenges now, we need to amend this section in the constitution and we can’t do that within 30 days. The maximum time to amend a clause in the constitution will take you nothing less than 3 months. Because, the bill should be gazetted, go to the first reading, second reading, coming to the committee stage for scrutiny, then third reading and up to the President for approval for the bill to become a law. So, the process is long and it cannot fit from now against the election in December.”
The Serekunda West NAM said in 2016, Gambians voted to usher in change; including diaspora voting, security sector reform and a lot of institutional reforms. But he said all of a sudden, the Barrow government changed their ways to staying in power rather than implementing the said reforms.
The National Assembly member said putting together the challenges he has mentioned clearly shows that the government of the Gambia is not interested and committed to diaspora voting in the 2021 presidential election. But he opined that the government can physically block the people in diaspora from voting, however they cannot stop them from telling their families to vote against the Barrow government.