By Omar Bah
The African Union, Ecowas, Commonwealth and other continental observers have described The Gambia’s presidential election as credible, fair and transparent with no major irregularities observed.
“It is the view of the Commonwealth Observer Group that this election was conducted in a credible, transparent and inclusive manner,” the head of the Commonwealth Observer Group, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo told journalists yesterday. He said despite the various areas where they have recommended improvements for future elections, it is their considered assessment that they did not materially affect the conduct of the election. “We call on all candidates, supporters and other stakeholders in the electoral process, to continue to show restraint and magnanimity and to uphold their pre-election commitments to peace with the spirit of national solidarity. We believe the people of The Gambia deserve that from their elected representatives,” Obasanjo said.
The African Union head of Observer Mission Kgalema Petrus Motlanthe, former President of South Africa, said: “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.” The AU team recommended for the government to enact laws that provide for public funding and enforce regulations governing private funding of political parties.
“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.”
The Ecowas head of mission, Ernest Bai Koroma, former President of Sierra Leone said the mission is appreciative of the conditions in which the election was organised as well as the speed and transparency in the collation, transmission and declaration of the provisional results by the IEC. “The Mission congratulates and invites the incoming President to increase efforts to meet the challenges of social stability, economic recovery, democratic governance and consolidation, peace and security in an inclusive manner,” he said. The Mission said despite the controversies, accusations and counter accusations and the rejection of the results by some presidential candidates, Ecowas Mission confirms that the electoral process has been calm and peaceful with no major incident reported.
Former Ghanaian president John Mahama, who led the EISA Election Observation Mission, said the EISA EOM observed opening and counting procedures in 10 polling stations and voting at 95 polling stations across 6 regions in the country. He said the election was held in “a generally calm and peaceful environment with EISA observer’s not reporting any incident”. “Overall, observers reported that all Election Day procedures were conducted in line with stipulated procedures,” Mahama said.
The EISA recommended for Gambia to consider the introduction of Presidential term limits, a majority system (50%+1), respond to calls for fundamental reforms of the Electoral Act in line with regional and continental standards, provide for representation of vulnerable and underrepresented groups such as women, youth and people with disabilities and introduce laws regulating campaign financing. The group also urged the new president-elect to implement the TRRC report recommendations to ensure justice and restitution for the victims of Jammeh’s era. The government is also urged to fast-track implementation of security sector reforms and the Anti-corruption commission. Turning to the IEC, the EISA advised the electoral body to put in place requisite mechanisms to allow for diaspora voting, enhance the capacity of the commission through setting up and staffing legal and statistics departments in the commission. The EISA EOM commends the Gambian [people on conducting a peaceful and transparent election and appeals to candidates to maintain peace and use the legally instituted channels to address any grievance that may arise.