Albert Massaquoi, NEC Head of Media and External Relations
By Prince C. Kamara
Head of Media and External Relations at National Electoral Commission (NEC), Albert Massaquoi has disclosed that a number of election officials from The Gambia are currently understudying NEC administration procedures and election processes.
According to Mr. Massaquoi, the Commission is currently hosting a number of senior officials from The Gambia Independent Election Commission. “We have been hosting them since last week and they are here for ten days to learn about our electoral system to take back to practice in their country,” Mr. Massaquoi told AYV.
He went on to say that The Gambia has been using the marble ballot system just like Sierra Leone did in the 70s. However, Mr. Massaquoi went on to state that The Gambia now wants to migrate from the marble ballot system to ballot paper system. “So they chose Sierra Leone to understudy our system. We are proud as a commission to export our ideas and share our experiences, our successes, and our challenges on how we use ballot papers in our elections as opposed to marbles,” the NEC Head of Media and External Relations, Albert Massaquoi noted.
He informed AYV that according to The Gambian election officials during the former President Yayah Jammeh era, they had few political parties and so they were able to manage the marble ballot system. He stated that the officials added that because of the recent introduction of multi-party democracy, The Gambia now has as many as fifteen to twenty political parties and therefore, the marble ballot system would be difficult to manage; the reason why they want to switch to the paper ballot system.
Mr. Massaquoi said the high-powered delegation comprises of very senior officers; a number of commissioners, top management staff, and directors “who have all came to see and learn step by step how we conduct paper ballot elections in Sierra Leone; and we have done a lot of justice by giving them so much information and instruction,” the NEC Head of Media and External Relations noted.
In a separate development, the NEC Head of Media and External Relations stated that 2019 is the year NEC completed its electoral cycle, adding that NEC daily develops a five year strategic plan. He added that the electoral cycle for the 2015-2019 strategic plans has been completed, and that the commission is currently reviewing and finalizing that one, to start a new electoral cycle 2020-2024, wherein NEC will have plans it would undertake in the form of elections and other activities.
He went further to state that very soon NEC shall invite stakeholders including political parties to look at these things, adding that from the experiences of the last electoral cycle, NEC will be better informed in planning for the next electoral cycle.
He concluded by stating that NEC is engaged in applying internal gender and disability strategies which would improve participation of disabled men and women and generally everyone in the electioneering process with a view to promoting this strategy first in the NEC workplace before exporting it elsewhere.