#Article (Archive)

GMC has strategic response to Elections Act amendment: Mai Fatty

Jul 15, 2015, 9:33 AM | Article By: Lamin Jahateh

The leader of the opposition Gambia Moral Congress (GMC) has said the party has a strategic plan in response to the recent passage of the Elections (Amendments) Act by the National Assembly.

Mai Ahmed Fatty said the response of the GMC includes a political component, among other legitimate calculations and will be implemented over a period of time.

Lawyer by profession, Fatty said the enactment of the amendment is a confirmation of “legislative anomalies” in The Gambia for the bill is “barren of any justifiable public policy rationale”.

The National Assembly on 7 July 2015 endorsed the controversial amendment to the Elections Act which exorbitantly increased deposit for presidential candidates from D10,000 to D500,000, and for National Assembly members from D5,000 to D50,000.

It also makes it a provision for the executive members of all the political parties to be resident in The Gambia, and the parties are also obliged to submit their yearly audited accounts to the Independent Electoral Commission.

Breach of the law

The GMC leader said the mere passage of the Elections (Amendments) Act by the National Assembly constitutes a breach of the law.

Lawyer Fatty said by enacting the new provisions, parliament as lawmakers, broke the supreme law, the 1997 Constitution which states that every citizen of The Gambia … shall have the right, without unreasonable restrictions, to vote and stand for election at periodic elections for public office.

He said the monetary provision and the clause on resident executives for all political parties is contrary to the Constitution.

“MPs have no powers under law to enact a legislation that is at variance with the provisions of the Constitution. If they do so, like they did recently, it is called ultra vires. In effect, you cannot give what you do not have. Similarly, you cannot exercise powers and rights that you do not have, particularly if your powers and authority are clearly defined, delineated and regulated,” Fatty said.

In conformity with the G6

The GMC leader said the party prefers to continue working within the framework with the Group of Six opposition political parties.

However, Lawyer Fatty said as a sovereign political party, the GMC reserves the right to engage independent measures deemed necessary, as long as these will positively impact on the situation.

“Even there, we shall brief our colleagues,” he explained, adding that the GMC will continue to support the common position of G6.

The GMC leader said even though the party would like to go into election, for it is a constitutional requirement; the focus of the party is on the process of the election not only the actual day of voting.

“Even our adversaries agree with me that it is the process that determines the credibility and integrity of an electoral system. All stakeholders should be interested in sanitising the electoral system,” he said.  “We believe that if the processes leading towards an election are neither free nor fair, the results of such an election cannot be credible or fair.”

For Mai Fatty, elections are determined by the process, and not merely what happens during the actual days of the elections campaign and voting period.

“We at G6 have done our job. We looked at the issue holistically in the interest of credible elections. We reduced our ideas and approach into a solid document - comprehensive electoral reforms proposals,” he said.

The document has been submitted to the IEC for action. Fatty said the response of the IEC to those demands will reveal the commission’s real commitment or not.

Opposition unity

Lawyer Fatty said as the party leader of the GMC, he is prepared to subdue his personal political ambition in favour of the single democratic opposition choice, in so far as that choice emerged out of transparent democratic processes.

He said he is ready to do this because the GMC stands for opposition unity and the national interest.

“We are prepared to submerge our partisan inclinations in favour of a united opposition alliance,” the party leader said.

“In pursuit of this, we are also open to convention-led proposal provided it would be implemented early enough to permit a cooling down of emotions that may be raised during a contested period, with enough time to unite different supporters on a common candidate. We are equally ready for new ideas and solutions on the approach,” he added.

“Personally, I am not anxious. I still have the gift of youth, and I am ready to learn more.  I am not in a hurry,” Fatty said.  “Having said that, let me state emphatically that I am ready to lead. I am capable of hitting the ground running. There are many good Gambians out there with whom we will work to build The Gambia of our dream. Yet, in the supreme national interest, I am prepared to actively support the candidature of any person who could emerge as the united opposition flag-bearer.”