Gambians living in the United Kingdom, have been greeted this week with a notice coming from the UK Election office, informing non-British Gambian and Commonwealth citizens about the revocation of their voting rights, and benefits henceforth, following Gambia’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth of nations, the Freedom Newspaper can reveal. The devastating news has hit many Gambian homes across the United Kingdom, especially those possessing indefinite leave to remain in the UK, students, and professionals. Gambians living in Slough, and Birmingham, received their letters of revocation of voting, including other benefits this past week, while the rest of the UK are likely to receive their notices sometime later this week.
A notice letter signed by Lee-Marie Grant, UK’s Electoral Service Manager, and was addressed to one of the affected Gambians resident in the UK, informs the persons in question that: “An amendment has been made to schedule 3 of the British Nationality Act 1981 to remove The Gambia from the list of Commonwealth countries. This means that Gambian nationals resident in the UK are no longer qualifying Commonwealth citizens with rights to register and vote at UK elections.”
The letter adds: “Following an audit of your current registration, your nationality appears as Gambian. I am of the opinion that you are not entitle to remain registered at this property for the following reason(s):”
The Gambia no longer being a Commonwealth country.
Gambian citizens may hold more than one nationality that would qualify you to register, then please inform us of this, by providing the following (s):
Copy of a valid passport that is either British or from a qualifying Commonwealth or European member state country. Please see attached list of qualifying countries.
You must supply a copy of the above document either by post, email or bring the original to St Martins Place, 51 Bath Road, SL1 3UF, within 14 days of the date of this letter.
Please respond by 28/11/2016
Please note that if you fail to respond within 14 days of the date of this letter and/ or fail to provide reason as to why you should not be removed, then I will take steps to have your details removed from the Register of Elections on 1st December 2016. If you require any further advice or information about the reviews then contact the Electoral Services office on the number shown above.
Electoral Service Manager
A source, who reached us said the recent development will no doubt affect Gambians in the UK, especially in the area of expediting one’s status to a British citizen.
“ This is really not right especially for the young Gambians living here. They might be deprived from ever having access to certain benefits (stuffs) that kids who live here does; just because they cannot naturalize until their parents adjusted their status. People are really upset and are insulting Yahya Jammeh now,” said a Gambian British citizen living in the UK.
“This decision is going to render Gambians who have indefinite leave to remain in the UK, to be unable to vote. Meaning their chances of getting loans, or mortgages and other benefits might be affected,” she tells the Freedom Newspaper.
Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai
Below is the letter that was sent out this week by the British Election office.