The gathering brought together members of the National Assembly Joint Committee on IEC, rep. from IEC, stakeholders, subject matter specialists, participants and partners from different institutions.
The purpose of the four days retreat was to give the members of the Joint Committee the chance to discuss and prepare a final report on the 2020 Election Bill that will be re-tabled before legislators.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mariam Jack-Denton, the speaker at the National Assembly, who doubles as chairperson of the Joint Committee on IEC, highlighted the significance of having the retreat.
Jack-Denton described the retreat as significant and called on members to participate effectively to ensure the report that the committee would table at the National Assembly is a good one.
“We are all aware that the 2020 Election Bill was tabled during the first ordinary session of the National Assembly by the Justice minister,” Mariam Jack-Denton recalled. She said the bill was then referred to the Joint Committee for proper scrutiny.
“The committee thoroughly went through it and engaged stakeholders to prepare and present it for debate (consideration) and for it to go for adoption before it proceeds to the next legislative process,” Jack-Denton said.
She added that the Joint Committee then went on a countrywide tour to engage stakeholders and citizens on the Election Bill 2020.
“It was a very effective move for the Joint Committee to give citizens the opportunity to participate in legislative process,” Mariam Jack-Denton noted.
Madam Speaker added that it is the responsibility of the National Assembly members in the Joint Committee to ensure that the electoral laws meet the current demand and realities of the electoral process.
Madam Jack-Denton told members of the Joint Committee that it is important that all genuine opinions, views and perspectives gathered during the consultation with stakeholders and citizens to be considered to enrich the final report of the Joint Committee.
For Aja Adam Ceesay, International IDEA focal person, said they have been supporting the government of The Gambia since 2017 in the transitional processes. She said they have been working with the National Assembly on difficult areas.
“We sponsored this activity because we have been partnering with the National Assembly and we want to help and promote democracy and rule of law in The Gambia.
She assured that they will continue supporting the National Assembly in process of the 2020 election bill for it to be tabled at the parliament and also to amend the Electoral Act for it to be a law that will govern the 4 December 2021 presidential election.