Panafrican News Agency

AUEOM says Gambia election was ‘peaceful and democratic’

Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - The African Union Election Observer Mission headed by Kgalema Motlanthe, former president of the Republic of South Africa, has issued a preliminary election statement, saying The Gambia presidential election was held under a peaceful and democratic environment.

The mission commended the government and Gambians as well as the Independent Electoral Commission and political parties and their candidates for their peaceful conduct before and during polling.

“The AUEOM is hopeful that the peaceful character of the 2021 Presidential election will consolidate this tradition. The AUEOM further encourages all stakeholders to sustain the prevailing peace in the remaining phase of the electoral process,” the mission said here Monday.

“Based on its pre-election assessment and Election Day findings, the AUEOM concludes that the election was conducted in a peaceful and democratic political environment and conforms to national and international standards,” it added.

The mission also recommended improvement of future electoral processes in The Gambia, adding “efforts must be made to pass the Electoral Bill and continue constitutional reforms".

The Government should enact laws that provide for public funding and enforce regulations governing private funding of political parties.”

“Political parties are encouraged to take more deliberate steps to adopt affirmative action measures aimed at increasing the participation of women, youth and People living with disabilities (PWDs) in decision making structures.

“Introduce legal requirements such as mandatory quotas to enhance women political participation. The IEC to establish a legal department to attend to litigations speedily. The AUEOM calls on all stakeholders to remain calm during and after the electoral process. The Mission urges any stakeholder dissatisfied with the electoral process to seek redress through the established legal and institutional mechanisms,” it added.

It said the voting process was peaceful with polling staff and voters showing commitment and a sense of professionalism, adding that party agents were present in some of polling centres visited while the presence of citizen observers was not consistent.

International observers were present. Party agents and observers were given access to the polling stations without restrictions and significant participation of women as polling staff was observed.

“There was no consistent compliance with covid-19 prevention measures. The AUEOM deployed 70 observers in 15 constituencies across the country.

They visited a total of 298 polling stations on Election Day to observe the opening, voting, closing and counting procedures in their areas of deployment, with 55 per cent in urban and 45 per cent in rural areas. Overall, the atmosphere throughout Election Day remained peaceful. a. Opening of polling,” it said.

“The AUEOM also noted the presence of citizen observers in most stations visited. The participation of citizen observers was crucial to enhance the credibility and transparency of the electoral process.

"The AUEOM notes that party and candidate agents were present at most of the polling stations visited and could carry out their mandate without hindrances, and with a high degree of tolerance."

On voting procedures, the AUEOM noted that voting proceeded uninterrupted in most polling stations visited throughout the day. Where there was an interruption, it was for less than 10 minutes".

“The reason for the interruption was usually because the bell was not heard prompting verification by the polling staff accompanied by party/candidates’ agents and the voter.

"The secrecy of the vote was guaranteed in all polling stations visited. The AUEOM noted that priority and assistance were extended to persons with disability, the elderly, pregnant women and nursing mothers as well as other persons with special needs.

Commenting on the closing of the polls, the statement said: “All voters in the queue at closing time were allowed to cast their vote. The AUEOM also noted that ballot reconciliation was done at the polling station at the end of polling".

"Counting took place at the polling stations where the results were published. The counting process took place in a peaceful atmosphere at all polling stations visited by the AUEOM. All the necessary documentation was completed, and results were posted at the polling station after candidate agents were provided with a copy of the results form 53.

"The AUEOM noted the presence of both citizen and international observers during the closing of the election day operations,” it concluded.

-0-PANA MSS/RA 7Dec2021