Gambia’s Electoral Commission Rejects First-Ever Female Candidate

Chairman of the Gambia’s independent electoral commission (IEC) has rejected the nomination of Marie Sock, the first female to file nomination for the presidency in the Gambia.

Sock, inexperienced in politics, filed her nomination papers last week, but couldn’t meet some of the requirements.

IEC Chairman, Alieu Momar Njie said Sock, failed to declare her assets and missed a few other requirements.

“She failed on section 42 (2) (a) of the election act. Which stated a legally required number of support to nomination by registered voters.”

“She did not submit asset declaration form as per section 42(7) of the election act and two other sections.” Said IEC chair.

The current vice president of the Gambia, Isatou Touray, was the first woman to declare her intentions to run for presidency in 2016.

She later joined the seven parties that backed President Adama Barrow. This makes Sock the only woman to come thus far.

Sock’s Reaction

In a press statement issued hours after her rejection Sock, who holds dual citizenship, said she couldn’t renounce her American citizenship due to the covid-19 pandemic. which is also a requirement for candidates to be eligible to run for the presidency.

This, she said, affected her preparation while filing for nomination.

“The US Embassy was not conducting any services except in emergency cases. Recently, I contacted the Embassy again as I felt my situation qualified as an emergency case but I was told that because the building was undergoing renovations, they couldn’t grant my request. They did not consider the matter a priority.”

Women participation

Women continue to be key players in Gambia’s electoral process, yet has low representation in government.

Feminists in The Gambia have been calling for equal participation and opportunities for women.

Jama Jack a feminist activist, said there is a need for women to continue to take up leadership roles in the country.

“It is unfortunate that for this round of the presidential elections, we do not have a female candidate contesting,” she said.

“It shows that there is still a lot of work that we need to do to support women through the process of building their political economy right, on to the point where we can witness the election of a female president in The Gambia.”

In Adama Barrow’s government women make up 20 percent in the cabinet and 9 percent in the parliament. Jack said meaningful representation is key.

“I think it is also important to remember that when we call for more meaningful women’s representation and leadership in politics,” she added.