Government Did not Cater for Gambian Diaspora to Vote
The Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Mamburry Njie, has announced to Gambian members of parliament that the government did not cater for any budget to sustain the cost of the diaspora Gambians participation in the coming elections.
“The participation of Gambians in the diaspora in the upcoming elections will require a supplementary appropriation because, as it stands, diaspora voting is not budgeted in the 2021 estimates“, Mamburry Njie said on Monday.
In the 2021 budget, the National Assembly appropriated D 122,824,195 for the Presidential elections, part of which D18,245,000 is catered for travel and D66,444,500 for allowances. Meanwhile the parliament appropriated also D 165,164,100 for voter registration, D22,750,000 for travel and D45,140,600 for allowances.
Yet, Mamburry Njie said nothing in that budget for the coming elections, took into account the need to ensure Gambians in the diaspora can vote in the coming elections. Presenting a gloomy picture, the Gambian, the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, said even if the Gambia government was to cater for the Gambian diaspora to vote, there is no money for such an activity.
“In fact, such supplementary appropriation will be subjected to borrowing because right now, we don’t have the funds,” Mambury Njie said as he presented a position paper before the National Assembly joint committees on human rights, constitutional matters, and local government tasked to engage stakeholders on the Elections Bill.
With Cherno Njie, Bakary Bunja Dabo, and Sidi Sanneh, Coach Pa Sadaga Jaw is a Gambian activist living in America who recently obtained from the Supreme Court that Gambians in the Diaspora have the right to vote and be voted for. Coach Pa Samba Jaw, as is fondly called, did not believe Mamburry Njie’s explanations before the National Assembly. In his Facebook feed, Coach Samba Jaw said the “Finance Minister’s claim today, at the National Assembly, that Diaspora voting is not budgeted for is misleading and at best a ploy to force another Supplementary Appropriation Bill on the National Assembly.”
Therefore, the Gambian activist asked, “Why should the IEC need D22 Million for travels if all the travels were local? If the Diaspora vote was not budgeted for, why did the IEC have us in the initial schedule for voter registration?”
To add to his doubts, Pa Samba Jaw recalled that Gambia’s international partners are ready to help in financing the elections project. And the Gambian activist concludes that the government of the Gambia must never abrogate the constitutional rights of Gambians based on the excuse of lack of funds. “The right to vote is sacrosanct in a democracy and must not be compromised,” Pa samba Jow said.