The Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission of The Gambia has announced that his institution has managed to register at least 44,547 voters in its fourth week of registrations for the upcoming December presidential polls.
Mustapha Carayol made this disclosure during a press briefing at IEC headquarters in Kanifing Tuesday.
“The total provisional number of registered voters at the end of the fourth week is forty-four thousand five hundred and forty-seven voters,” Carayol said.
“The supplementary regisatration of voters started as scheduled and it is progressing successfully. The IEC has not yet encountered any major issue in the conduct of this national electoral activity.”
The IEC has come under criticism after the institution announced weeks ago that it is charging D100 on replacement of lost or damaged voters’ cards.
Though critics said charging for replacement of damaged or lost voters’ card will lead to a decline in the numbers of registration but the IEC boss said over 5000 have already responded across the country.
“The total provisional number of replacements at the end of the fourth week is five thousand two hundred and forty-six voters’ cards,” he said.
He added: “I hereby remind all Gambians that the sole purpose of the voters’ card is for voting at elections and not for any other use. Therefore, I appeal to all institutions and Organisations to disallow the use of the voters’ card in their transactions.”
Double registration of voters in The Gambia has often been an issue and the chairman warned of enormous consequences for those who are involved in such fraudulent activity.
“May I remind all Gambians that it is illegal to attempt to register more than once. Those who registered in 2011 must not register again. There is a penalty on double registration. It is a fine of twenty-five thousand dalasis (D25,000) or a prison term of two years with being barred from participating in any future electoral activities for not more than 10 years if convicted,” he added.
“… Some applicants still attempt to register twice. I call on applicants who have done double registrations to come forward now and surrender the cards otherwise; they will be caught and prosecuted. Let me also state that if an applicant registered more than once with whatever name, address or date of birth, he/she will be detected when the biometrics cross-matching is complete.”
The relationship between the IEC and opposition parties of The Gambia has suffered further complications after the electoral authorities made an amendment to the country’s electoral laws that opposition described as “undemocratic”.
However, the IEC boss called on all political parties to regularize their status with the electoral institution or face deregistration.
“Let me seize this opportunity to inform all, particularly political parties, that any political party that fails to regularise its ststus by not providing the IEC and updated list of its party executive members, the opening of regional office in each administrative region will be de-registered come 31st March 2016,” he said.
According to the IEC electoral calendar, Gambia’s presidential elections is slated for December 1, 2016, National Assembly elections on April 6, 2017 and Local Government Elections on 12 April 2018.