An online petition has been launched by Gambians in abroad on Friday 29th September, to be able to vote in their country`s future general elections.
1223 Gambians have already signed the petition demanding to vote as stated in the Gambian Constitution and other electoral laws of the country.
The group behind the petition said before its launching, it has established the legal basis of making such a demand, which is a “right of every Gambian to vote in general elections, whether resident at home or abroad.”
They said the right for Gambians abroad to vote is guaranteed by the constitution of The Gambia and the Elections Act that mandates the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to register Gambians living abroad to vote.
A statement issued to the media reads: “We consulted the IEC chairman to inform him of our intention to launch the petition and shared the demands made with him, in advance.
“The IEC chairman made it clear that diaspora voter registration and voting is part of the IEC’s programmed and endorsed the spirit of the petition.”
The statement says there is no doubt that President Barrow, his government and political parties in The Gambia want to enfranchise the Gambian diaspora. The President, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad and national assembly members have all expressed the desire to enable Gambians living abroad to vote.
It added that whilst there is no reason to doubt the sincerity of the IEC Chairman and political leaders, there is “no indication at all”, at the time of launching the petition, as to when will registration of Gambians living abroad be conducted or where and how it will be conducted. The aim of the petition, therefore, is to seek clear answers to these questions by asking the IEC to:
“Announce a timeline for the registration of Gambians living abroad;
“Clearly spell out the registration process for Gambians living abroad;
“Announce the Registration Centres abroad, where Gambians living abroad shall be registered;
“Clearly spell out what documents Gambians living abroad would need in order to be registered to vote; and
“Clearly spell out how Gambians living abroad shall vote in elections and how votes cast outside the country shall be counted.”
According to the group, the petition is a means of engaging all stakeholders through the IEC to make diasporic Gambians voting a reality. And, added that “it speaks for the legitimate right of all Gambians living abroad, fully aligned with the political will in the country.”
The statement says the urgency of registering Gambians living abroad to vote cannot be overemphasised.
“Very soon there will be a referendum for a new Constitution. At the end of the term of the coalition government, a new government will be elected. We urge all Gambians to sign the petition and give Gambians living abroad a say in these elections,” reads the statement.
Signing the petition takes less than 2 minutes. All you need to do is to enter your full name and email address. Once a sufficient number of signatures are collected, the petition will be sent to the IEC and all stakeholders in The Gambia. Only the names and country of residence of people who signed the petition will be appended to it.
Click here to sign the petition: A petition to IEC to support citizens of the Gambia living abroad to register and vote