GAMBIA URGED TO ENACT LAW TO GIVE PUBLIC FUNDS TO POLITICAL PARTIES
A report on proactive disclosure of information and elections in The Gambia, commissioned by the Centre for Human Rights and funded by Article19, has recommended for the government and the National Assembly to prioritise a Political Party Funding Act.
The detailed report, which covered issues of access to information and the 2021 presidential elections, election management, political parties and candidates, election observers and monitors, among others, disclosed that the Act will provide legislation for the annual disbursement of public money to political parties represented in the National Assembly based on the best practice of other AU member states.
“It will also devise a mechanism that will track expenditure of such funds to ensure their utilisation in a judicious and transparent manner for the purposes for which they have been allocated,” the report noted.
It added that the law will also regulate private funding (donations) to political parties and devise a mechanism requiring the disclosure of all donations above D50,000 dalasi ($700) by political parties and their donors, and impose certain restrictions on the source and use of such donations.
“Ensure that there is legislative power given to the IEC to regulate the utilisation of state resources, six months before and after an election, to stem the persistent culture of abuse of state resources during elections. This should include all regulatory and enforcement resources as outlined in the Guidelines on Access to information and Elections in Africa,” it added.
The report also urged the government to implement the recommendations from the various EOMs (the AU, ECOWAS, EU, EISA, and local observers), whose suggestions are anchored on the need for an improved democratic dispensation through the strengthening of election integrity.
“Ensure that the disenfranchisement of the diaspora is halted by extending the franchise to them, as reaffirmed by the Supreme Court ruling.
The report recommended for the government to reintroduce the 2020 Draft Constitution for swift passage to a referendum and let the citizenry decide how they wish to be governed and by which set of aspirations they wish to be guided before the next general election in 2026.
“Fast track the institutionalisation and operationalisation of access to information processes as required by the Access to Information Act.”
The report also urged the government to reform the appointment processes of the IEC commissioners to reflect the independence, integrity, credibility and national character of the country taking into account issues of gender balance, intergenerational mix, religious minorities, and PWDs.
“So that it is responsive to the demands of a modern election management body by ensuring that its commissioners are appointed by the president (from a shortlist) through a public process for vetting and interviewing candidates, led by the National Assembly, members of the Inter-Party Committee and the Public Service Commission,” it stated.
It added that the IEC should be compelled to adhere to the principles of a service delivery entity as well as an organiser of elections, and be empowered to be transparent and accessible in its response to the public and stakeholders with respect to information on all their processes, including the tenders, contracts, and documents submitted by political parties and candidates for all elections, as per legislation and the regulations.
A political party funding bill will provide for, and regulate, the public and private funding of political parties, to prohibit certain donations made directly to political parties; to regulate disclosure of donations accepted and to determine the duties of political parties in respect of funding.
Source: The Standard