Gambia: Emmanuel Joof Calls for Inclusion of Second Round of Voting in Election Bill

Mr Emmanuel Joof, the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has told the national assembly that the 50 plus one and second round of voting should be included in the Election Bill 2021.

Mr. Joof said this on Wednesday 5th May 2021, during their appearance before the joint committee on IEC, Human Rights and Constitutional Matters of the National Assembly, while expressing their views on the election Bill 2021. He said the bill talks about voting, deposits, thresholds and many things, but second round of voting for the presidency is not captured in the Bill.

"We looked at the Bill and second round of voting was stipulated in the constitution once upon a time, but it was easily removed. So, we thought that the 50 plus one should be included in the Election Bill 2021," he said.

Joof also said they have observed clause 4 sub clause 2(G) of the Election Bill 2021, which relates to the powers and functions of the IEC. He said their concern is with the issue of issuing permit to the political parties for campaign, processions and rallies, as stated in section 25.

Joof said section 25 guarantees and talks about the right to freedom of assembly, including the right of political parties to hold rallies and subjecting the exercise of this right to the authority of permit. He said subjecting the exercise of this right to the authority of permit, may hinder its enjoyment. He said they are suggesting a law be put in place so that what will be required is notification regime in order to allow the state to facilitate the exercise of this right.

"The issue of notifying makes it easier rather than requesting, as one is begging even though it is a fundamental right. Let us look at the nomenclature and look at what happens in other countries and look at our advisory note. We should also change the nomenclature and make it in line with practices in those countries, for the issuing of permit to be based on notification," he said.

Chairperson Joof said they have also scrutinized clause 140, which talks about results of the referendum as well as clause 141, which he said has no relevance.

Joof said clause 68, which talks about priority in voting, stated that in casting of votes, the Presiding officer shall give priority to persons with disability to be changed to persons with disabilities, as opposed to saying in sub clause (C) persons with disability.

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