The Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, Alieu Momar Njie, has acknowledged that the IEC will continue to make the clarion call that election is the business of all. In view of this, he noted, the Commission wishes to fully collaborate with all the stakeholders on their role and responsibilities in the electoral process.
Njie, who was speaking on Monday during the opening of a three-day training for media, civil society organisations and political parties along the Bertil Harding Highway, reiterated his Commission’s commitment in promoting and conducting free and fair elections based on democratic principles and practices.
He pointed out that the media and civil society organisations are key partners to the IEC since they play crucial roles in the electoral process especially in the domain of information dissemination for the fact that voter participation is greatly influenced by the quantity and quality of electoral information voters have been given access to.
Chairman Njie said it is important to note that the freedom, responsibility and limitations of the media are guaranteed in the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia under sections 207, 208 and 209 respectively. He added that the IEC media rules on election reporting also provides some practical guidelines to journalists in helping them fulfill professional standards, which generally includes accuracy, impartiality and responsibility.
He went on to state that the electoral process includes electoral campaign, polling, counting and declaration of results respectively, noting that this process will clearly demonstrate that Gambian elections are free, fair, transparent and accurate.
“No one can rig it. From the registration of voters through the fool-proof biometric voting card system, during which candidates and party agents are welcome to be present and to object to anyone whom they consider not eligible to possess a voter’s card, and if that objection is not satisfactorily dealt with there and then on the spot, the objector has the opinion to take it to the judge appointed to deal with such cases,” he stated
The Chairman went on: “It is satisfying to state that during the last supplementary registration of voters stretching from 14th January to 12th March 2016 countrywide, not a single case was brought before any of the judges appointed in all the administrative regions. The issue that non-Gambians are voting cannot be justified. Also no one can vote twice.”
He further stated that there will be a selection, training and appointment of polling staff numbering more than 7,000 countrywide to be supported by thousands of security personnel appointed for the exercise.
Isatou Jallow-Ndure, IEC Commissioner, also highlighted the media’s immense contribution to the development, noting that this training is an important aspect of the electoral activities.
Joseph Colley, the Director of Training and Communication, and the Chief Electoral Officer Sambujang Njie both commended the important role played by the media in the election process.
by Alhagie Babou Jallow &