By Muhammed L. Bojang
Banka Manneh, a Gambian activist based in the United States of America and a leading figure during the struggle for change in the Gambia has called on the government and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to stop the blame game and ensure that the dreams of the Gambian diaspora community is realized by giving them the opportunity to vote in the upcoming December presidential elections.
The hopes and aspirations of New Gambia giving the diaspora a chance to vote has hit a stumbling block and Mr. Manneh described the hitch as “lack of political will”.
Speaking to Mamos Media in an interview on Thursday, Manneh said he does not care whose fault it is, saying the authorities should get to work and make their dream of voting a reality.
According to him, the diaspora’s demand is for those responsible to get to work and make it happen for them without any excuse.
“There is a chance for a diaspora voting but there has to be the political will. Diaspora voting or not has nothing to do with lack of resources or logistic solutions but political calculation and will”, he went on, adding: “Access to voting should not be hindered in any form”.
Manneh described voting as a sacred right that should not be taken away from any citizen, adding that there should not be a question as to whether the diaspora will vote for them or not but give them their right to vote. He stressed that justice must be served for those in the diaspora who hold Gambian passports and birth certificates.
He also said that the diaspora citizens have the same rights as those living in the Gambia and as such, their rights should not be denied.
He said, for instance, the Gambians in Atlanta, USA have a building, which they offered the Senegalese diaspora to use during their last presidential elections, noting that if the Senegalese can use the Gambian building to vote in the diaspora then the Gambia government should accord the same opportunity to the Gambian diaspora.