By Lamin Jahateh
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has called for the harmonization of the presidential, legislative and local government elections of The Gambia.
Speaking to the state TV, the Gambia Radio and Television Services on Wednesday, Alhaji Mustapha L. Carayol, chairman of the IEC said it will be very cost effective if the three elections are synchronized – held on the same -instead of organizing three different elections for each, the administration of which is very cost intensive.
The call by the IEC is very important particularly now that donors and many international agencies that used to help the country with logistics and finances to conduct national elections are reluctant to do it now.
The Gambia holds presidential and National Assembly elections every five years and Local Government elections every four years.
The cost of voter registration exercise for these three set of elections, according to the IEC, is D65, 297,506 (approximately US$2m). During this election cycle, the said cost has been entirely financed by the government as no donor agency came forward to fund despite appeals to do so.
Commenting on the upcoming local government elections, which is held to choose Mayors and Ward Councilors, the IEC chairman said the commission is bracing itself for the forthcoming nomination which is to take place from 14 to 16 March 2013 in country. The campaign period for the election is scheduled to take off from 20 March to 2 April 2013. The election, itself, is scheduled to take place on 4th April, 2013.
Local government election in The Gambia is done to elect mayors for the Banjul City Council, and Kanifing Municipal Council and Councilors for the 114 Wards in the eight Local Government Councils of the country.
IEC chairman Carayol said the commission is set, 100 percent ready to conduct the election. “All our materials are intact,” he said.
In an effort to expedite the process leading to a successful Local Government election; through a high level of participation from all major stakeholders in the electoral process, the IEC has started a massive countrywide voter education on 7 January 2013 to continue up to April 3 2013 embark.
This is to ensure that the electorates abundantly understand the purpose for Local Government Elections in The Gambia and the functions of such officials that may be voted into the offices of the Local Authorities.