Sep 15, 2008, 5:52 AM
The Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission has announced plans by the Commission to make time changes in the country’s voting system.
Mustapha Carayol made the announcement Tuesday while presenting the IEC’s annual report and financial statement to the Public Accounts/Enterprises Committee of the National Assembly in Banjul.
This was in response to a question by Hon. Momodou Lamin Sanneh, minority leader and member for Kiang West constituency, who asked whether the IEC has any plans to hold presidential and National Assembly elections on the same day.
This development, according to Carayol will see voters start voting from 8am to 5pm instead of the usual 7am to 4pm.
“We have realized from past elections that voters will come to join queues early morning and by the time they are to cast their votes, time will not allow some of them to do so,” he told deputies.
According to him, this new change is expected to be effective by the next Local Government Election, and the 2016 presidential election.
The IEC boss also told members of the PAC/PEC committees that it was part of the Commission’s plans to ensure that voters confirm their names first at polling stations, before joining queues to cast their votes.
He noted that there were instances when voters will join the queue only to be told later that they are in the wrong queue.
This, he said, is a waste of time for the electors.
Responding further to a proposal from Hon. Sellu Bah for the Commission to consider demarcating some constituencies due to their size, the Chairman of the Commission told members that this is not the mandate of the Commission.
“It is not the mandate of the IEC to demarcate constituencies nor the mandate of the IEC to hold both presidential and National Assembly elections together; just read the constitution of The Gambia; we don’t have that mandate,” he said.
He also told members of the Committees that the Commission will be embarking on a vigorous sensitization campaign ahead of the National Assembly elections, to sensitise voters to turn out in their large numbers.
Responding to the Chairman’s report, Hon. Sidia Jatta, member for Wuli West, said there is no part of the Constitution which states that voting should start from 7am to 4pm, noting that this is an idea of the IEC.
“In fact, according to the law, voting should start from 7am to 6pm and look at this last presidential election; electors went to cast their votes before 4pm, but were denied to vote because they were late to join the queues,” Jatta stated, adding that those electors were denied their fundamental rights.
Robert Anthony Secka, Chief Electoral Officer, also made some clarifications on the activities of the IEC.
After commending the Commission for its “good” report, deputies considered and adopted the report.