CSOs: Voters poor understanding of NAMs’ roles caused low voter turnout  

Apr 12, 2022, 10:57 AM | Article By: Isatou Ceesay Bah & Jankey Ceesay

Civil Society Organisations say people do not understand the roles of the National Assembly Members which resulted in low voter turnout.

John Charles Njie, chairman of Tango and coordinator of Transitional Justice Working Group, in an interview, said he had been to almost 10 polling stations and the turnout remained low. He further stated Gambians do not appreciate the role of the National Assembly.
“People believe the NAMs are there to support the ruling party’s agenda, while it is the opposite. This body is responsible for holding the government accountable instead. They are supposed to be serving the people as they are our voices,” Mr. Njie enlightened.

Omar Saibo Camara, executive director, FactCheck Center, also stated that most electorates see presidential elections to be the only important elections and the rest are a waste of time.
“Electorates take it to be time wasting because they don’t want to go and vote for someone whom they are not sure would fulfill their demands.”

Meanwhile Fatou M. Jawo, chairperson of Election Observation Board Gambia Participate, relates the low voter turnout to Ramadan.

“Most people will prefer their religious obligations over civic, and usually by the time one can be free to vote during Ramadan, the sun may also start scorching.”

She urged the IEC to consider the revision of the election cycle not to fall within such periods in the next elections to prevent voter apathy.

Speaking to the press at Serrekunda East Polling Station, a local observer for National Human Rights Commission, Imam Baba Leigh, acknowledged the low turnout in this Legislative election, saying more sensitisation is needed.

"So far what I have seen is a very low turnout. Generally, Gambians are more active in the presidential elections than the National Assembly elections," he said.

"Gambians don't value the essence of citizenship, and as a citizen, you have to take part in political activities, and really Gambians need to be sensitised on the importance of this parliamentary election."

Fatou Ceesay, 41, said she was disappointed with the turnout.

"I voted in the December Presidential election and the turnout I saw is quite different from this one. People should come and vote because this election is even more important than the presidential elections."

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