Dr. Ismaila Ceesay’s Citizens’ Alliance Party (CA) and Mai Fatty’s Gambia Moral Congress (GMC), both fought their legal battles against the electoral body for nullifying their nominations for presidency and emerged victorious.
Delivering a landmark ruling on Tuesday at the High Court in Banjul, Justice Amina Saho-Ceesay declared that the electoral body has failed to comply with the provisions and spirit of the Elections Act Cap 3:01 in their procedure in the rejection of Dr. Ismaila Ceesay as presidential candidate of the Citizens’ Alliance. She also awarded a cost of D200,000.00 as administrative and legal cost against the IEC.
Meanwhile, the leader of the GMC Mai Ahmad Fatty, also defeated the IEC at the court on Wednesday.
“GMC just won its case against the IEC. The Court granted all Reliefs against IEC. Justice has prevailed. We are appreciative of the enormous support from my co-counsel Mr. L. S Camara of Dandimayo Chambers and his staff. They are phenomenal. Thank you to our GMC loyal supporters and sympathisers both at home and in the Diaspora, and to all Gambians. Grateful to those among my colleagues in the Bar who supported me during this brief but momentous journey. Gambian democracy has been further consolidated. The judiciary is the bastion of our sovereignty. God Bless the Republic of The Gambia,” he posted on Facebook.
Reacting to this development in an exclusive interview with The Point, Mr. Khan, said: “This is a legal matter and the various affected parties went to court. Therefore, as a commission that is law abiding and that respects the rule of law, we will comply with the ruling of the court.”
Asked whether the Commission is going to appeal the decision of the High Court, Khan said: “I hope we are going to appeal. This is a matter for the Commission. The commission will be looking into it and as soon as it’s done, we would communicate to the press. However, we might appeal against the case.”
The integrity of the electoral Commission, he went on, can’t be compromised. “The Commission acted in good faith with regard to the disqualification of the various candidates. We acted based on laws and good practises. The decision on the nomination process was done strictly in accordance with the law and in accordance with the provisions of the Election Act. Therefore, the commission came out with those decisions based on its findings in relation to the Election Act. Well if people are not happy about it, they have rights to go to the court and seek redress.”
The Commission, Khan further explained, acted strictly based on the laws and Election Act in order to make sure that the candidates meet the requirement based on the law. Further explaining the reasons why some aspirant candidates were rejected, the IEC spokesperson said some candidates were rejected because they didn’t have enough in the region.
“Banjul is a small area and I know some people find it difficult to get the required number of voters supporting their candidates or supporting their nomination. That was the case of CA and GMC. In fact, it was not only in Banjul but even in Mansakonko. Again, we need to understand that before a candidate is approved by the IEC to contest in the election, the individual needs to be supported by 5000 voters from the country. However, within a particular region, the person needs to be supported with at least 200 voters.”
Quizzed whether he is confident that when the Commission appeals against the decision of the High Court they are going to win the case, Khan said: “Of course I am quite sure about that for the fact that all the decision taken during the nomination process were based on the law and we also acted based on good faith. We didn’t act anything based on malicious intent and there was nothing illegal. The decision taken was also based on merits. The documents provided by IEC in terms of their nomination were reviewed strictly based on merits and based on their conformity with the Election Act.”
“I am quite sure if this case is appealed by the Commission, the appeal will be granted by the Court. The Commission is ready for the election. We have already deployed all our materials countrywide. In fact, we just concluded the Training of Trainers (ToT) on Tuesday. These are people who are going to be in the various election areas across the country,” he stated, adding that the commission is targeting to train about 6000 people in this election cycle.