A coalition of two civil society groups, the Right 2 Know Coalition-Gambia (R2K Gambia and the Democratic Union of Gambian Activist (DUGA), have tasked the Independent Electoral Commission to suspend the National People’s Party (NPP) and nullify the nominations of all its parliamentary candidates for failing to hold congress after two years of existence, which violates the Election Amendment Act.
In a joint statement dated 3rd April and addressed to the IEC Chairperson, Alieu Momar Njai, the groups highlighted: The Right 2 Know Coalition-Gambia extends its greetings and compliments to you and the IEC. We write in the true spirit of partnership, with the aim of assisting your Commission better deploy its mandate at this critical time, as The Gambia heads for National Assembly elections.
The statement states: “Mr. Chairperson, the IEC’s awesome responsibility of upholding and adhering to its legal mandate and principles of integrity and fair play, cannot be overstated. We realise the responsibility entrusted to it by the constitution and the various legislative frameworks that legalises its existence. It is in this regard that the R2K Coalition-Gambia wishes to enquire from the IEC as to why it has turned a blind eye to a clear violation of the Elections Amendment Act, by the NPP, (the party of the incumbent).”
“The NPP was registered and established as a bona fide political party on 31 December 2019, under your hand and stamp of approval. A year prior, your very office issued an ultimatum to all existing parties at the time, to hold Congresses, otherwise risk being suspended for violating the Elections Act. Most parties scurried to fall into compliance. However, the National Convention Party (NCP), according to your very office, fell afoul of the warning, and were therefore suspended on 18 January 2019.”
“We would also wish to remind the IEC that in 2016, it disqualified The National Democratic Action Movement (NDAM) and the Gambia Democratic Party (GDP), for the same infractions. The IEC triggered Section b 127 of the Elections Act and issued a six-month suspension on the NCP, for failing to hold a ‘unified congress’. The question now arises as to why the IEC would not also show consistency and apply the rules and regulations on other parties that have also flouted the Amendment Act,” it added.
“President Adama Barrow’s party, NPP, has never held a congress. We raised this in our letter of 29 October and were told that the regulations stipulate that it must be within two years, (other unsavoury things were said about us in your half-hearted rebuttal, and the same distasteful response also came from the minister of information, Ebrima Sillah, and another NPP lackey- both statements were insulting but not surprising) and that the NPP was less than two years old.”
“The NPP has now surpassed that 24-month mark, yet has not held a congress. This gross infraction of the Elections Act is a continuing violation, as the IEC has allowed the illegality to endure unabated,” the statement added.
“The IEC knew that the NPP never held a Congress yet went ahead and accepted the party’s nominations of candidates for the National Assembly elections. The IEC was aware that President Adama Barrow’s party, the NPP, never held a congress, yet turned a blind eye on the nationwide presidential campaign undertaken by the incumbent to boost his chances of electoral victory in the legislative polls, wantonly abusing state resources with impunity.”
“The IEC was aware of these anomalies yet was complicit in assisting the NPP evade the regulations set in the Elections Amendment Act. These are the same laws the IEC has used to penalize less powerful and much smaller parties in the past. However, when it comes to bigger parties, particularly those belonging to the incumbent, the application of the rules is very different.”
The statement further stated that the IEC’s motto of fair play, integrity and transparency, (which is oddly no longer prominently embossed on your webpage) seems to have faded away in presentation, practice and policy.
“We hereby call on the IEC to: (I) Immediately suspend the National Peoples’ Party (NPP) for at least six months (as was applied to other parties for the same infraction) for violating the Elections Amendment Act; (II) Immediately declare all approved applications of NPP candidates for the 2022 National Assembly elections null and void; (III) Immediately inform the NPP that it must cease all political activity until it holds a Congress according to the Elections Amendment Act, and the suspension is lifted.”
“Failure to do so will grossly undermine the credibility of the institution of the Elections Regulator and will further instill the lingering doubts in the minds of the public, and the electorate on the credibility of the April National Assembly polls. The 6th Assembly’s credibility, and legitimacy will be forever stained if the IEC refuses to abide by the laws of the land,” the statement concluded.