Gambia: Marie Sock Urges IEC to Ensure Free, Fair Election

16 April 2021

The Gambia's would-be first female presidential candidate, Marie Sock has urged the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to ensure that there is free and fair election ahead of the December 2021 forthcoming presidential contest.

In an interview with West Coast Radio on Thursday, Marie Sock blamed IEC for not formalising her candidacy, while accusing the Commission for excluding her from all IEC-led initiatives in preparation for December 2021 election.

"I call the IEC all the time so I can get my paper work; so I can pay everything. But they said that is not ready yet and we have to wait for the nomination in November. I even argued for the nomination to be in November because that's going to be a bit late."

"When things are happening and they invite all the other political parties and we (independent candidates) are not invited. So they cannot wait until last minute and start telling us we have to pay a million dalasis."

"We have been excluded, so how do you expect us to pay D1 million just to do what? Just because we stand as independent and then we don't have all the privileges and everything that the parties have been enjoying since they registered. It's highly discriminatory."

"People send me letters asking why they didn't see me in this inter-party thing, meetings and even the negotiation in the draft constitution. I said to the people well, I call the IEC to ask them why was I not invited and why are we not even in their website to show to the people that these are the aspiring candidate, but they said no because we are not political party. So you cannot exclude us on everything that has been ongoing, and then turnaround and ask us to pay a million dalasi."

"I want to advise the lawmakers to really take their time and look into the bill. I think it is highly discriminatory to wait until this last instant to do something like that; because we have not been included in any activities that all the other parties have enjoyed and I think that thing alone is a concern."

"For me, I think everything is last minute because if you look at what is prepared and what is not prepared, especially for us the independent candidate, it's like we just left hanging to wait until November."

"For me, what helps me is the media platform I created together with the interviews journalists had with me. There is nothing there for the independent candidate and everything is catered for the political parties."

If we have to wait until November to get our forms and everything that we need to submit and be nominated, it's all going to be last minute, although from what they (IEC) said, there is enough time. But what you have to understand is that political parties have been campaigning since last year and all this year. And me I should just count myself lucky because I've been working with lot of people; maybe that's what helps me, but still a lot of things are lacking and we have months left to the election."

"Let us all try to get a peaceful and fair election by creating a very peaceful atmosphere. The atmosphere is all about what comes out and what law is put on the table for the people, because we cannot sit until the last minute and start changing laws or doing things that we know can create problem. We don't want a problem in this election but rather a smooth and fair election for all."

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