By Adama Tine
The National Assembly Joint Committee on the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), with support from International IDEA on Monday has begun a 4-day retreat to discuss the way forward on the 2020 Election Bill that was tabled sometime ago before the National Assembly by the Justice Minister Dawda A. Jallow.
The retreat, held at the African Princess Hotel, brought together members of the National Assembly Joint Committee on IEC, representatives from IEC, stakeholders, subject matter specialists, as well as participants and partners from different institutions.
The purpose of the four-day retreat is to give members of the Joint Committee the chance to discuss and prepare a final report on the 2020 Election Bill that will be re-tabled before legislators.
The speaker of the National Assembly, Mariam Jack-Denton, who doubles as chairperson of the Joint Committee on IEC described the retreat as significant and called on members to participate effectively to ensure that the report that the committee would table at the National Assembly is a good one.
“We are all aware that the 2020 Election Bill was tabled during the first ordinary session of the National Assembly by the Justice Minister,” Speaker Jack-Denton recalled, adding that the bill was then referred to the Joint Committee for proper scrutiny.
“The committee thoroughly went through it and engaged stakeholders to prepare and present it for debate (consideration) and for it to go for adoption before it proceeds to the next legislative process,” Jack-Denton further said.
She added that the Joint Committee then went on a countrywide tour to engage stakeholders and citizens on it.
“It was a very effective move for the Joint Committee to give citizens the opportunity to participate in the legislative process,” she noted.
The Speaker added that it is the responsibility of the National Assembly members in the Joint Committee to ensure that the electoral laws meet the current demand and realities of the electoral process. She told members of the Joint Committee that it is important that all genuine opinions, views and perspectives gathered during the consultation with stakeholders and citizens were considered to enrich the final report of the Joint Committee.
On her part, Aja Adam Ceesay, International IDEA focal person, said they have been supporting the government of the Gambia since 2017 in the transitional processes. She added that they have also been working with the National Assembly on difficult areas.
“We sponsored this activity because we have been partnering with the National Assembly and we want to help and promote democracy and rule of law in the Gambia,” she stated.
She assured their continue support of the National Assembly in the process of the 2020 Election Bill for it to be tabled in parliament and also amend the Electoral Act for it to be a law that will govern the 4 December 2021 presidential elections.