Gambians in the diaspora have demanded  in an open letter to the President that their legal right to vote be “respected and fulfilled”.

The letter sent by the US-based Gambian civil society groups, Democratic Union of Gambian Activists (DUGA) and R2K, said: “Your Excellency, as the 2021 presidential elections draws closer, the Gambian Diaspora and their supporters at the home front, continue to demand for the Gambian Diaspora’s legal right to be registered and to vote, and we call on Your Excellency to leave no stone unturned to ensure that the promise you made to the 8th region of the Gambia (The Diaspora) in your NDP, is respected and fulfilled.

“Your Excellency, Disenfranchisement of 200,000 Diaspora Gambians cannot be allowed to continue under your watch. 

“The undersigned Gambian diaspora organisations and individual citizens, resident in foreign countries, are deeply concerned about the slow pace of preparedness of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to actualise diaspora voting for the Presidential Election scheduled for December 2021.

“We are equally worried that barely seven months to the said Presidential Election, the apparent lack of commitment on the part of other relevant stakeholders including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), responsible for diaspora affairs and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), the line Ministry overseeing the IEC, have evidently failed to show reasonable haste, to coordinate their efforts in order to expedite the necessary processes that will ensure that the diaspora’s right to vote in compliance with both existing laws and government policy, materialises in good time for the scheduled election.

“Your Excellency, we respectfully draw your attention to the policy statement contained in your government’s flagship policy documents, the National Development Plan (NDP), 2018-2021, specifically under the heading of ‘Diaspora in Development’, as one of the seven (7) critical enablers of the NDP, in which your government gave a cast-iron guarantee to actualise the enfranchisement of the Gambian Diaspora, in accordance with sections 39(1) and 26 of the 1997 Constitution,” the statement added.

“Your Excellency, continuing to tolerate the disenfranchisement of the Gambian Diaspora is proven to be difficult, because it is the same as disenfranchising the whole of Kerewan Local Area Council, which has a similar population size to the Gambian Diaspora.”

Reporting by Adama Makasuba

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