By Landing Ceesay
The Citizens’ Alliance have described the disqualification of its leader by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) as “unfair” and “unjust”.
Speaking at a press conference, Dr Ismaila Ceesay, the leader of Citizens’ Alliance alleged that the IEC did not follow due process in disapproving his nomination.
“The law is very clear that where nomination forms are incomplete, it is by law according to the electoral act for the IEC to organize fresh nominations and notify the candidate before nomination closes to submit fresh nominations but that was not done. We did not hear anything from the IEC; we were not notified that we were short until when we heard from the press conference that our nomination was rejected. We trust a process that should have been transparent and a process that could have focused more on inclusion rather than exclusion.
“In line with the Constitution, every citizen has a right to be voted for in office, but also to vote for in elections. We also fulfil all the Constitutional requirements by the law in terms of age, in terms of citizenship, in terms of academic qualification, all the Constitutional requirements are fulfilled by us. We thought it was unfair, unjust for us to be rejected, or disqualified just because we did not meet statutory requirements, which are outside of the Constitution. So because of that, we feel that our rights have been violated and the IEC did not follow due process in the way they handled our nomination. We thought now the best way is to go to the courts and let the courts decide,” Dr Ceesay said.
The IEC at their press conference on the nomination of the candidates said Dr Ismaila Ceesay, the Presidential candidate for CA has not complied with section 42 subsection 2 (a) of the electoral act, that less than two hundred registered voters in Banjul Administrative Area supported his nomination; as opposed to the legal requirement that a candidate for election to the office of President shall be nominated in the prescribed form 1 part A of the Fourth Schedule by not less than five thousand voters whose names appear in the register of voters, with at least two hundred voters from each Administrative Area.
In response to the claim made by the IEC, Dr Ceesay said upon hearing the news of his disqualification, their lawyers advised them to appeal against the commission’s decision, which they did, but on the same day, the IEC called them for a meeting during which the commission informed them where they (CA) fell short which led to their rejection.
“Even though IEC agreed that we submitted more than 200 signatures from Banjul. However, they said that some of the signatures were cancelled out for CA, because of duplicate nominations. That means if I signed for Mr X, I can’t sign for Mr Y. But if you look at the forms those who signed for CA, signed for CA before signing for other parties. But the IEC arbitrarily gave nomination dates and times to political parties. So it means that if party X is called to go and submit their nomination before party Y, but party Y is the first party to be signed means Party Y’s signature will be axed. We think that is unfair because we didn’t choose when we’re going for nomination. It is not about when it was signed but when it was delivered to the IEC. The date and delivery are not decided by the CA, but the IEC. Because of those duplicates, they said we lost those signatures and because of that, we could not fulfil the criteria. We still insisted that we thought our rights were violated and the IEC did not follow due process,” Dr Ceesay said.
The Citizens’ Alliance filed a case at the High Court in Banjul and the first hearing is scheduled for 16th of November 2021.