By Olimatou Coker
Peace Ambassadors – The Gambia (PAG) a voluntary non-profit peace education and advocacy organization has been addressing issues noted by its observers on the current voter registration exercise. PAG trained and deployed 53 observers and 6 coordinators across the country to observe the voter registration exercise.
The body reported that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has improved some aspects of its operations resulting in fewer instances of malfunctioning equipment as compared to the first week of the registration exercise.
Bubacarr Sambou, PAG President said while most registration centers are opening on time, PAG observers noted that some registration officials are reporting to registration centers late and closing earlier than the stipulated time.
He also said that enforcement of Covid-19 safety protocols remain lax, adding that their observer reports also showed a decline of registration staff present when centers were opened.
The PAG president further said that 140 of 158 observer reports showed that centers were accessible by all registrants while 18 of 158 reports showed that centers were not accessible with applicants required to go upstairs to register, which potentially posed a problem for some persons with disabilities.
He went on to say that PAG observers also witnessed fewer instances of disruption, intimidation, and harassment at some registration centers.
He said other critical incidents reported by PAG observers included turning away of claimants by IEC officials even when they were in the queue before 5:00 pm; IEC registration officials reporting to registration centers late; and the unsuccessful attempts of underage claimants to register using the Seyfo and Alkalo attestation.
PAG also encouraged security personnel to consistently enforce the Covid-19 regulations at various registration centers in order to ensure the public is protected during the conduct of the voter registration exercise.
PAG went on to admonish political parties to adhere to the IEC regulation stipulated in its recent public statement to have only one agent per center. It finally encouraged party supporters to stop spreading false information, hate speech, and violent actions during this period.
Peace Ambassadors – The Gambia has since 2006 monitored every election held in The Gambia including presidential, parliamentary and local government elections.