Gambia: ECOWAS election observation mission commends Gambians for peaceful parliamentary polls

Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - The ECOWAS Election Observation Mission (EOM) has praised Gambians for their peaceful conduct and high sense of patriotism as well as the professionalism exhibited by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and its agents during the country’s 6 April, 2017, National Assembly elections.

“The conduct of the 6th April 2017 Legislative elections has demonstrated the commitment of The Gambian people to a functional democracy,” the 20-member Mission said in a four-page Preliminary Declaration read by Head of Mission, Prof. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Ghana’s former  Election Commission Chair, at a press conference in Banjul, the Gambian capital on Friday.

He also commended the Police Service, political parties and candidates for their conduct during voting, counting, and results collation processes.

The Mission called on the 53 newly-elected lawmakers to see their election as a unique opportunity and a call to national service for the wellbeing of all Gambians and the progress and development of the new Gambia.

“They should also exercise magnanimity in victory,” the Mission said, and appealed to the unsuccessful candidates to accept the outcome of the polls as the will of their constituents, and in the event of genuine grievances, to resort exclusively to legal means to seek redress.

Despite the smooth conduct of the exercise, the Mission observed a “relatively lower turnout of voters” compared to the 1st December 2016 Presidential elections.

It therefore recommended that ahead of future elections, the IEC and political parties should put more efforts to educate and sensitize the citizens on the importance of active participation in all national elections.

“Furthermore, it may be expedient in the future to consider holding both legislative and presidential elections on the same day in order to minimize the cost of organizing elections and addressing the issue of low voter turnout,” the ECOWAS Mission added.

It expressed gratitude to the people of The Gambia and various stakeholders involved in the organization of elections for the security and logistics measures put in place to facilitate the deployment of observers, which enabled them to effectively accomplish their mission.

The Mission noted the early arrival of polling officials at polling stations on Election Day, which enabled voting to commence within the stipulated time in most polling centres, as well as the presence in sufficient qualities of electoral materials at the polling stations across the country.

“There was adequate representation of women among the polling officials and party agents,” it observed, although from the results released by the IEC, there were only three women among the 53 victorious candidates.

According to Gambia’s Constitution, the President is to appoint five other members of the 58-seat Parliament.

The ECOWAS Mission also noted that the elderly, nursing mothers, and voters with special needs were given priority and afforded the necessary assistance to vote.

The polls were the first since the December 2016 presidential elections won by President Adama Barrow’s opposition party, after 22 years of the administration of former President Yahya Jammeh, now exiled in Equatorial Guinea.
-0- PANA VAO 8April2017

08 april 2017 08:20:55

xhtml CSS