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Opposition takes IEC Chairman to task, urges him to vacate seat

Apr 10, 2012, 1:42 PM

Following a brief post -election respite, leaders of the six opposition parties that boycotted last month’s parliamentary polls, have added  to their demand for a level-playing field by demanding that the Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, Alhaji Mustapha Carayol, vacate his office, which they said is being occupied unconstitutionally.

In a letter signed by the leaders of the six parties or Group of Six, as they are known, the opposition said if the chairman of the commission had received a letter of appointment on 15 October as claimed by the vice chairman of the electoral commission to serve for a further term of seven years, he (the chairman) would have been given an unconstitutional mandate to serve for a third term.

Below is the full text of the statement by the opposition parties:

Re: Notification of the Expiry of your Tenure of Office as Member of Independent Electoral Commission

We the undersigned, being the representatives of registered political parties in The Gambia, namely the GMC, the GPDP, NADD, the PDOIS, the PPP and the UDP have been struck by the statement of the Vice Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, that you have been appointed on 15 October 2011 to serve as Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission for a period of 7 years. 

It is noted that since this statement was uttered in reply to a question raised by an Election Observer from the AU, you have not issued any statement to rebut the misinformation conveyed to such an important guest of the Commission who was here in The Gambia to gather facts regarding the whole electoral process.

It goes without saying that, if we the stakeholders also keep quiet we would be aides and abettors of unconstitutional behaviour by giving credence to the statement of the Vice Chairman of the Commission, which contradicts the letter and spirit of Section 42 Subsection 4 of the 1997 Constitution.

The provision reads:

“Subject to the provisions of this section, the members of the Commission shall be appointed for a period of seven years and may be re-appointed for one further term:

Provided that three of the first members (who shall be chosen by lot) shall be appointed for lesser periods than seven years in order to provide continuity within the Commission.”

It is evident that the first members of the Commission could serve less than two seven year terms but none could serve more than a maximum of two seven year terms. Mr. Carayol you are on record claiming  that you have been with the Independent Electoral Commission since its inception in 1997. The AU observers may have visited your website and could have read the biography regarding your tenure of office with the Independent Electoral Commission.

The following is an extract from the Website:

“Mr. Alhaji Mustapha L. Carayol – Chairman

“He is a retired Head of Aneasthesia at the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital, the largest hospital in the country situated in the capital city, Banjul. He did his training and [housemanship] in Ghana. He was among the pioneers of the PIEC and he transitioned to the IEC.

He was officially elected from amongst the Members to be the Vice Chairman of the Commission from 2000 to 2006. Due to his expertise and dedication to duty, he was appointed Chairman of the Commission in July 2006. He has a wealth of experience in elections which is exemplified by the numerous conferences and seminars he has participated in and the numerous elections he had observed, notably among which is the historic  2008  US elections. He has been awarded with the Order of the Republic of the Gambia by the President of the Republic of the Gambia.”

 The pictures hanging in your conference room, the annual reports of the Independent Electoral Commission which are required to be submitted to the National Assembly, starting with the 1997 to 1998 report provide material evidence that you have been a member of

the Commission since its inauguration in 1997 and only an incompetent Government would have allowed you to be in office for more than seven years without an appointment letter. Needless to say you could not have served a second seven year term without an appointment letter to that effect.

In our view, if you had received a letter of appointment on 15 October to serve for a further term of seven years you would have been given an unconstitutional mandate  to serve for a third term. Only an incompetent Government would be guilty of such a travesty of the rule of law. Moreover, even if you are appointed out of ignorance you should have pointed out the mistake and vacate office honourably on the day and calendar month on which your second seven year term expires in accordance with Section 42 of the Constitution.

 In this regard, we demand that the letter and spirit of Section 42 of the Constitution be respected and implore you to vacate the office of Chairman of the Commission which is being occupied unconstitutionally.

By a copy of this letter, we wish to alert the Executive, the Judicial Service Commission and the Public Service Commission and all stakeholders, accordingly.…………………………..            

The Gambia Moral Congress  (GMC), the Gambia Party For Democracy and Progress (GPDP), National Alliance for  Democracy and Development (NADD), the People’s Progressive Party  (PPP), the People’s Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS),  the United Democratic Party (UDP)

c.c. President of the Republic of The Gambia

 Attorney General and Minister of Justice

 Chairman, Judicial Service Commission

Chairman, Public Service Commission

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