Jun 9, 2011, 1:18 PM
As preparations for the next Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government elections in 2011-2013 get underway, the Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Mustapha Carayol has disclosed that the Commission needs over US$3M (Over Three Million Dollars) to ensure the successful holding of the elections.
Carayol, who was speaking yesterday in an exclusive interview with The Point Newspaper, said the government cannot do it alone, stressing that even the opposition should come in and support the Commission to mobilise funds.
"Our programme for 2010-2013 costs over 3 million dollars and the government cannot do it alone. When you cry democracy, that's the institution; if we have a programme, they should support us because we need the funds. Without the funds, we cannot conduct any registration or elections. We really need the funds, and the government cannot do it alone," he said.
According to him, people should know that government cannot do it alone. "Other political parties should also take part. All political parties should try and mobilise funds for the IEC, but they just sit down at their corner. If you want to be elected, go and start from the grassroots level. Meet the people and not sit down till a month before elections, and want people to vote for you," Chairman Carayol said, adding that if people do not know your agenda, they cannot vote for you.
The IEC Chairman said the system of the IEC is transparent from stage one to ten. "With our system, you cannot cheat; you can't! If you want the people, know what to do so that the people can vote for you," he stated.
Commenting further on the preparations for the elections, the IEC boss said the IEC cannot conduct any elections without funds. "Before the Presidential elections, in the last quarter of 2011, we are going to conduct a General Voter Registration. If we have the funds now, we are going to start in January (2011) at least for three months," he added.
After that, Chairman Carayol went on, the IEC will clean-up its register, then move to voter education before heading for the presidential elections, which will take place during the last quarter of 2011.
"We did not submit our budget yet for the presidential elections because, before the elections, there is going to be a General Registration. At least the budget that we have submitted to government and the donors at the moment is for the general registration. We are ready, but we have to mobilise funds first. Without the funds, we cannot do anything," he further stated.
Quizzed as to whether the IEC have any plans for registering Gambians abroad to vote during elections, the IEC boss said the commission has no such plans.
"We don't have any such plans. Anybody who wants to vote can come here, register and vote," he said.
On what the IEC plans to do to avoid voter apathy as in previous elections, he said voter apathy is all over the world, and not in The Gambia alone. This time around, he stated, it is going to be done by the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) and civil society organisations, and the IEC is not going to do it.
"This is the mandate of the NCCE," he said, adding that the IEC is going to participate in one way or the other, and will see to it that the voter education is done properly.
"Before the voter education starts, the IEC will conduct district authority meetings and meet all the Chiefs, Alkalolu, and Governors. This time am sure things will change, if we have the funds early," he stated.
The IEC boss called for more support from the general public, noting that government is doing its best in supporting the Commission.
"Look at our building; it was financed by the government and there is no single organisation who gives us a Dalasi. Furniture and everything in this building is all from central government. Now we have a programme, 2010-2013.
We have general registration, and now this time we are going to use the digital form. We want, when it start, for everyone to come out as it will take three months. And after that there will be no extension," he announced.
The IEC Chairman also commended the donors for making the last election a success. "The donors are doing their best, they are supporting us. The last election was successful because of the donors," he said, adding that the IEC is on a transparent footing.
"We don't support any political party. Our system is different," he declared.