Gambians are going to the polls this week still not sure which of the two different additional voter registration numbers should be used following the supplementary registration exercise that ended on 12 March 2016. Both the outgoing and new IEC chairmen gave different figures for the number of additional voters in the register. Mr. Mustapha Carayoll reported a figure of 44, 547 in March this year whilst Mr. Alieu Momar Njie said the number during the exercise stands at 89, 649 people. There was no additional registrants after the exercise ended on 12 March 2016. This is significant as the difference of 45, 102 voters could be voting for Yaya Jammeh.
The Supplementary Registration exercise should not be confused with the Replacement exercise which deadline was 29 September 2016 and was meant for those whose cards were lost, mutilated, burnt or defaced for a fee of D100. The question that needs to be asked is why the Auditor General was not involved to confirm the numbers in the voter lists especially in the absence of international observers to monitor the whole registration exercise.
Use of dead peoples’ voting cards
External scrutiny of the voter register would have been useful in modifying the controversial register containing thousands of dead people who are still registered to vote for Yaya Jammeh. Gone are the days IEC would just declare results without being independently verified. The electorate are more informed now and with the incumbent’s past history of manipulating the votes, using under age voters and bringing in foreigners using dead peoples’ voting cards to vote for him; the lack of an independent assessment of the voter register still cast doubt on the figures being reported by the IEC. Since 2006 when deletions were made in the voter register for deceased people, there have not been any deletion from the voter register of those confirmed to have deceased.
NAWEC to cut supply of electricity when votes are being counted
We are calling the opposition coalition to closely monitor the entire electoral process, the election system could be rigged in favor of Yaya Jammeh. It is also important to include external observers and the Auditor General during the counting process as credible sources are saying that NAWEC has been given instructions to deliberately cut the supply of electricity to those polling centers that with strong support for the coalition as well as those for which ballot switching would take place. IEC should make it a point of duty to ensure that there are no interruption of power supply in all of its voting centers throughout the country by making all necessary arrangements to have adequate backups whether standby generators or solar for any planned electricity disruption.
In the past there have been irrefutable evidence of massive vote rigging and irregularities perpetrated by the Jammeh which led to widespread condemnation of the election results by ECOWAS who were on the ground observing a very flawed election process. Concerns were also raised when Illegal voters were being transported in army trucks or buses to vote for him in the Kombo East area. This time around the citizens of this country are not taking any chances and are demanding a more transparent process while urging the IEC to be vigilant in eliminating all avenues for electoral mal-practice which have attracted serious complaints in past elections by the main opposition parties and a couple of international institutions that refused to endorse the previous election results.
Incumbents are an institution rather than an individual seeking re-election
Organizing a successful national election is an intricate task especially under a regime that failed to adhere to the electoral codes of conduct and blatantly misusing the official government machinery and resources to further the electoral prospects of the incumbent as well as using government resources for his private campaigns. As one political scientist said, “a sitting president has all the paraphernalia of office anywhere he goes. So when you are contesting against them, you know you are contesting against an institution.”
Despite some eyebrow-raising levels of high voter turnout and fantastic margins of victory in past elections, it remain to be seen whether this time around voting and conveyance of results will be as transparent as possible by involving the Auditor General in the counting and verification of the results which should lend credence to the process giving the conspicuous absence of credible international observers to monitor the entire process.
No voting from the grave please
It is not enough for the IEC to be a fair and impartial referee, they must be seen to be fair and impartial in fully carrying their mandate according to the electoral laws. Anything that undermines this perception in electoral environments that have the potential to turn violent, stokes that threat. Four days before the election, citizens of this country are watching how the number of ghost voters on the electoral rolls will vote. Dead men tell no lies.
Written By Insider Analyst