File pic: Voters queue at a polling station

The Independent Electoral Commission has cancelled its plan to introduce paper ballot in the upcoming presidential election.

The Commission cited unamended electoral laws as well as time constraints which it said will disrupt its voter sensitisation campaign.

The Gambia is still using a British colonial era marble voting system and the IEC chairman Alieu Momar Njai wanted to change it to paper ballot in line with international practices. 

But Mr Njai said the plan has been put on hold because there was not enough time to change the marble voting system that is old but efficient. 

“We have rescinded our plan to introduce the paper ballot in the December presidential election.

“Because we feel there would not be enough time to embark on a vigorous voter sensitisation and the laws are also not ready (for it),” Mr Njai said.

The Gambia adopted the unique system in the 1960s as a way to allow for easy participation of illiterates in the electoral process and to eliminate spoilt ballots.

In the last presidential election in 2016 there were only two invalid votes when two voters placed their marbles on the voting drums. 

The next presidential election will be held on December 4 with 17 political parties fielding candidates for the top job. 

Reporting by Adama Makasuba

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