PDOIS LETTER TO IEC CHAIRMAN
CHAIRMAN INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION
11th January 2016
SUBJECT: HAS THE RE-DEMARCATION OF CONSTITUENCIES BEEN GIVEN LEGAL
EFFECT AND WOULD GENERAL REGISTRATION TAKE PLACE IN ANY NEW
In three days time Supplementary Registration of voters would begin. In your programme guide regarding the movement of your registration teams, there is no mention of any registration team for any new Constituency.
You would recall that you did send a copy of “Legal Notice No.10 of 2015 dated 1st June 2015” which is cited as “Re- Demarcation Of Constituencies, 2015.” This Citation stated that the Constituencies of Kombo North, Kombo Central, Serrekunda East and Serrekunda Central have been demarcated to increase the number of constituencies from 48 to 53.
We alerted your mind to the fact that Section 88 of the Constitution makes provision for 48 constituencies and that no demarcation could take place without an amendment of the Constitution. Hence we argued that your demarcation had no legal foundation and was therefore null and void.
In December 2015, the National Assembly passed a Bill to amend Section 88 to seek to remove the provision which restricted the number of Constituencies to 48 and introduced the clause which requires the National Assembly to have “at least 53 members”. This Bill requires a Presidential assent and publication in the Gazette to become law.
The IEC should confirm whether the amendment has become law and then publish its re-demarcation order. Our concern is simple. Registration is to commence on the 14th January 2016. If the New Constituencies take effect, there would be no Kombo North, Kombo Central, Serrekunda East and Serrekunda Central.
Such constituencies would disappear. They would be replaced by the following constituencies: Sannehmentereng Constituency; Old Yundum Constituency; Busumbala Constituency; Brikama North Constituency; Brikama South Constituency; TalindingKunjang Constituency; LatrikundaSabiji Constituency; Serrekunda Constituency and BundunkaKunda Constituency.
It goes without saying that General registration of all voters must take place in such constituencies as required by the Constitution and the Elections Act. We have not seen any preparation being done in that regard or any public notice being issued to that effect.
The Constitution is very clear on what should be done if a Constituency is re-demarcated. It is obvious that if a Constituency is re-demarcated it is replaced by other constituencies. Section 39 (1) states that “every citizen of The Gambia being eighteen years or older ….shall be entitled to be registered as a voter in a National Assembly Constituency for that purpose.”
Section11 Subsection (1) of the Elections Act states: “The Commission shall prepare, compile and maintain …….a register of voters for each constituency and a register of Gambian registered voters in Foreign countries.”
Hence, each voter must be registered under a Constituency if resident in the Gambia. Therefore, if a Constituency is demarcated, voters in the new constituencies must be registered under them. This fact is incontrovertible.
We hope that you will issue a public notice before registration commences to indicate the status of your re-demarcation exercise.
On the other hand, many Gambians abroad have been asking why they are not registered to vote in presidential elections when section 11(1) makes it mandatory for your Commission to maintain a register of Gambian registered voters in Foreign Countries.
Your Commission has a duty to do what the law says and we hope that you will give such concerns due consideration. While anticipating the information conveyed to you would be instructive in the formulation of your policies and programmes,
Yours in the Service of the People
For The Central Committee