The former Chairman of Gambia’s Electoral Commission Mustapha Carayol has denied helping Yahya Jammeh to rig past elections in The Gambia. He was speaking in an interview with the Banjul based Star FM. The 83 years old Carayol said Jammeh had won all elections conducted from 1996 to 2011.
He said he has never been used by Jammeh to rig elections. He also said the polls were free and fair during Jammeh’s rule.
“Political parties were allowed to have polling agents. It is impossible to steal elections. He was the incumbent. He has money. He was supported by chiefs, governors and Alkalos. Jammeh won all those elections. It was never rigged. He was never defeated. They never wanted to accept defeat, but he won the elections,” he said.
Carayol is a former medical officer. He retired from the medical field in 1990. He resorted into stepping up a business.
When the illegal change of government occurred in July of 1994, Carayol said he received a letter from the junta in 1995, appointing him as an IEC Commissioner. He abandoned his D50,000 monthly earnings from his business to accept the junta’s job offer, despite his family’s opposition to his new job offer. His salary was D3,000 dalasis.
Carayol was posted in Basse. He works under the former Chairman of the Provisional Independent Electoral Commission Gabriel Roberts. He was overseeing the PIEC operations in Basse and Janjangbureh.
“I never applied for the job. I received an appointment letter from them,” he said.
Carayol and his colleagues conducted the 1996 referendum for the approval of the 1997 constitution. Afterwards, they supervised the 1996 presidential elections.
His boss Gabriel Roberts was sacked by Jammeh and later reinstated. Julia Joiner was the Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service at the time.
Carayol has recalled accompanying Roberts to the State House to meet with Jammeh and his junta colleagues. He describes Roberts as a perfect gentleman.
Carayol was appointed IEC Chairman in 2006. He said he was in the upcountry when Jammeh appointed him. Supplementary registration of voters was going on at the time of his appointment.
Elections were held in October of 2006, of which Carayol and his IEC team supervised. He maintained that Jammeh was the winner of that elections.
“I have never been used by Jammeh to rig elections. Jammeh has never given me money to help him rig elections. I have never told anyone that Jammeh used to rig elections. It is a lie for anyone to make such claims. All elections held during my watch at the IEC were conducted freely and fairly,” he said.
“We have never rigged elections for Jammeh. IEC cannot rig elections. Jammeh has the support of the people at the time. He was supported by the Alkalos. He has money. He won those elections,” he added.
Carayol doesn’t think that he is being given the props he deserved. “
“I introduced counting on the spot in 2011. That is why he lost the elections. I also introduced the biometric voter registration in The Gambia,” he added.
He said Jammeh was opposed to the proposal for counting of votes on the spot. Jammeh told him that it could cause war in the country. But Carayol insisted that there must be counting on the spot. He finally prevailed over Jammeh.
“We had a quarrel over it. He claimed security issues to justify his opposition to counting on the spot. I told him if Guinea Bissau can have it why not The Gambia. I finally convinced him. He lost the 2016 elections because of counting on the spot,” he said.
Carayol also took a swipe at Gambia’s TRRC. He claimed that lies are being adduced at the TRRC Commission over the issue of counting of votes on the spot in the past 2016 elections. He added that someone falsely claimed at the TRRC that counting of votes on the spot was introduced in 2016, when it was introduced in 2011 by him Carayol.
“They are lying at the TRRC that it was introduced in 2016. That is not true. I introduced counting on the spot in 2011. That is why he lost the elections. He couldn’t even pronounce my last name. I am a friend of his Dad,” he said.
Carayo said some people are legacy chasers. He said he deserved to be credited for the work that he had done at the IEC during his watch. He talked about pioneering the IEC election house, counting on the spot, and the biometric voters cards among others.
Carayo also said he was opposed to Alkalos issuing attestation letters for Gambians to secure ID Cards and voters cards. The opposition parties, he went on, never opposed the practice, which he warned could lead to fraudulent elections.
“A Gambian registered five times during our watch at the IEC. We used to expunge their illegal registrations. People were only allowed to vote at their initial place of registration. You cannot take all of them to court. The current IEC should be vigilant. They should avoid double or multiple registration,” he said.
“Attestation should be abolished. In my time, I do not accept it. How can you live in this country for eighteen years and you do not have a birth certificate, ID Card or passport? The parties are not opposing it. They supported it. It should be stopped. Sadly, it cannot be stopped now. It is now part of the law,” he added.
Carayol also said he was opposed to the one million dalasis fee charges for political parties to be registered. The original fee was one hundred thousand dalasis, but it was changed during Jammeh’s rule.
The former IEC boss, who was hospitalized in the United States, following a sickness, has called on the current IEC Chairman Alieu Mamar Njai to avoid issuing double results during electioneering time. He warns that such announcements could cause war in the country.
“Issuing double election results could jeopardize the country’s peace and stability. They should take their time before announcing the results,” he remarked.
Carayol also said he was the one who recommended the Mr. Njai to Jammeh to be hired. Jammeh even declined to rehire Njai when he was fired from the Commission. He added that he also recommended Malleh Sallah, and the other Commissioners to be hired.
Regarding the issue of replacing the marble voter system with a paper ballot, Carayol said those advocating for such changes are foolishly looking for cheap recognition. He said for such changes to happen, there must be what he called a vigorous voter sensitization campaign to be spearheaded before coming up with the proposed changes. He warned that marble voting is more efficient than paper ballot. He cited an instance in which he witnessed paper ballot being rigged in two African countries. Carayo wouldn’t name the names of the two countries he witnessed such voter rigging. When he queried it, he said he was told to mind his business.