By Omar Bah & Juldeh Njie
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the European Union have deployed election observers to the Gambia for tomorrow’s parliamentary poll.
It is the first time since 2006 Ecowas deployed election observers. The regional body had twice boycotted Gambian elections saying there was no leveled field.
The deployment is in line with the regional Organisation Supplementary Protocol on democracy and good governance and the principal objective of the Mission will be to ensure smooth conduct of the electoral process leading to a free, transparent and credible election.
“As you know ECOWAS has contributed a lot to the peace we are all enjoying in the Gambia today. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they have to send observers here to observe how the election goes,” the head of ECOWAS mission Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan told journalists at the Sea view hotel yesterday.
The former Ghanaian elections Chairman further stressed that at the end of the election, the Mission will express its opinion and, if necessary, make appropriate recommendations to the various stakeholders in the electoral process.
He emphasized that the media and election observers should always take correct notice of irregularities in election.
“I will also want to assure that the mission will give a candid view of how the election goes according to the mission,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Chief of the EU election observer mission in The Gambia Miroslav Poche, a member of the European Parliament (MEP), on Monday bade farewell to fourteen short-term observers (STOs) who left for their various areas of observation posts across the country.
The EU sent an election observation mission for the National Assembly election following an invitation from the Independent Electoral Commission of The Gambia. The mission is led by the chief Observer Miroslav Poche, a Czech MEP and comprises seven international election experts who are based in Banjul.
“From today, the mission’s scope of observation will be broadened as 14 STOs and a dozen of locally –recruited short term observers from EU member states and embassies accredited to the Gambia have joined the mission. The STOs will primarily observe the proceedings on Election Day as well as the tabulation of the results.
“This team of short-term observers brings a wealth of diverse experience and reflects the interest of the European Union in the upcoming National Assembly election,” Miroslav Poche said.