Gambia’s Parliament on Tuesday unanimously voted to reduce the current deposits payable by candidates aspiring for elections to public offices notably Offices of President, Member of the National Assembly, Mayor or Mayoress and Councillor, to the previous deposit figures.

The amendment was done during an Extra Ordinary Session convened under a Certificate of Urgency signed by the President of the Republic.

Tabled in the House by the Minister of Interior Mai Ahmed Fatty, the Election Amendment Bill seeks to encourage the widespread participation of the ordinary citizenry in the new democratic dispensation.

In the Amendment, Section 43 (1) of the Principal Act is amended in paragraph (a) by substituting for the words ‘Five hundred thousand dalasis’ to the words ‘ten thousand dalasis’.

“In Paragraph (b) by substituting for the words ‘Fifty thousand dalasis’ to the words ‘two thousand five hundred dalasis and in Paragraph (d) by substituting for the words ‘Ten Thousand dalasis’ to the words ‘one thousand, two hundred and fifty dalasis”.

Minister Fatty said the bill will address the issue of inequity and ensure political rights, adding that every citizen with full age and capacity should have the right without restriction to take part in elective positions.

According to him,the fundamental peg that the amendment seeks to remedy is age restriction by allowing every Gambian especially women and young people who are desire for public office to participate in elections.

“This year, the participation of the young people will be high. We need the young people in this August Assembly and even in Cabinet. Therefore, this amendment will remove the restrictive provisions to allow all to participate” he said.

Considering the economic status and strength of the people aspiring to participate in elective offices, Minister Fatty said it is vital to reduce the deposits as financial constraints deprived many from participating in past elections, whom would have been effective in contributing to national development.

Meanwhile, in Pursuance of Section 101(3), the President of the Republic accordingly signed a Certificate of Urgency on the matter dated 24th February 2017, for the National Assembly to consider.

“The Extra Ordinary Session is therefore convened in accordance with Section 98(a)(i) and 101(3) of the 1997 Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia, according to Speaker Abdoulie Bojang during his opening remarks of the session.

“Section 101(3) reads: No bill, other than a bill referred to in sub-section (5), shall be introduced into the National Assembly unless it has been published in the Gazette, and such publication has been made at least fourteen days before the date of its introduction.; provided that where the President certifies that the enactment of the bill is required in the public interest as a matter of urgency, the bill may be introduced notwithstanding that it has not been published fourteen days beforehand” he said.