Registering voters for the coming elections in The Gambia ends on Sunday 11th July 2021. Yet, top officials of some political parties have asked that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) extend the registration deadline to allow every Gambian willing to vote to accomplish their civic duty.
The Gambia Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has projected to register over 1 million voters in this year’s election. Yet, the provisional voters’ registration tally for week 5 records a total of 856,719 registered people across the country. Over the majority of the potential voters are females, who account for 488,416 of the yet recorded voter roll.
Some Gambian political party executives believe that there is still room to accommodate later comers who intend to register to vote. They forward the premise that the extension of the voters’ registration process will ensure that every eligible Gambian, both within and outside the country, can register and vote.
The opposition APRC spokesperson and National Assembly Member for Foni Kansala Constituency, Musa Amul Nyassi, told the Chronicle that “The voter registration should be extended to ensure that no qualified Gambia is left out for the coming election.”
Neneh Freda Gomez, the spokeswoman of the opposition Citizens Alliance, told the Chronicle that CA feels that the process should be extended. “Remember, it’s been 11 years since the last voter registration exercise, and every year from 11yrs ago, an eligible voter is qualified to register.”
Neneh added that the IEC disenfranchised a good section of eligible voters in the Gambians of the Diaspora by not availing them of the opportunity to vote in this year’s elections. She describes it as a ‘violation of one’s constitutional right to vote,’ which, according to her, “Is unacceptable.”
Muhammed Bah, a member of the CSO coalition on the election and civic rights advocate, argues that the only extension needed is for registering Gambians in the diaspora.
Otherwise, he said, “The voter registration process should not be extended because he believes that IEC has given enough time for people to register to vote. However, people should consider that the registration process has different phases, and there is not enough time ahead of the election,” Muhammed Bah explains.
Meanwhile, in a press release, the IEC has encouraged Gambians that are yet to register to do so as the voter registration process will not be extended. The Commission further urges people to desist from preventing, interfering, or barring any individual from visiting voter registrations centers across the country.