Monday, June 17, 2024

Activist deems IEC chair’s overseeing of forthcoming elections unconstitutional, urges him to step aside

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By: Muhammed Lamin Drammeh

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Coach Pa Samba Jow, a prominent Gambian political and social commentator, has called on the Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, Alieu Momar Njie to step aside amidst the alleged expiration of his term on April 7, noting that Mr. Njie would be unconstitutionally presiding over tomorrow’s Local Government Elections which, according to him, would automatically render the election null and void.  He equally called on political parties to challenge the issue in court.

According to him, the mandate of Mr. Alieu Momar Njie ended on the 7th of April 2023 and not what the Ministry of Justice said in a radio interview. To him, the IEC boss is unconstitutionally occupying the office.

“Mr. Njie’s continuous occupation of the office of IEC chairman is unconstitutional and an affront to our democracy. Consequently, any election, including the upcoming Local Government Elections, overseen by Mr. Njie will be unconstitutional, thus making it null and void,” he claimed.

Pa Samba argued that the term of the chairman of the country’s electoral body cannot be extended beyond the constitutional term. He said no authority, be it the president of the republic or any other official, has the legal authority to extend the mandate of the chairman of the electoral commission.

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“For the record, Mr. Njie was first appointed in 2006 and resigned in 2007. He was reappointed for another term in 2011, and in 2016, he was promoted to the chairmanship. In August 2020, Mr. Njie told the Standard Newspaper that his term expires in 2023 because Jammeh gave him a new contract, which again is unconstitutional. So, the suggestion that his term ends in 2025 is flawed and illegal. If he should serve until 2025, he would have been in the IEC for 15 years, which contravenes section 42 (4) of the 1997 constitution,” he argued.

Pa Samba, despite raising the flag that the IEC chairman’s term has ended, hailed him for his heroic contribution to the 2016 election. However, he urged Mr Njie to step aside and not allow it to be used by the state.

“Mr. Alieu Momar Njie, regardless of what anyone may think about him, served his country. His heroism on December 1st/2nd 2016 is still fresh in our minds because if he and his team had capitulated to Jammeh’s attempts to usurp the result, we wouldn’t be enjoying the democracy we are touting today. Therefore, I will appeal to Mr. Njie to not allow the trappings of power to tarnish his legacy. He should be constitution-compliant and step aside. His term is over, and he shouldn’t be engaging in technicalities to try to elongate it.”

He urged political parties to challenge the claimed extension of his term in court to preserve the Constitution.

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