By Alagie Manneh
The Independent Electoral Commission has promised to deliver a credible, transparent and fair election in Saturday’s mayoral and chairmanship elections.
In a Standard exclusive, IEC spokesperson Pa Makhan Khan intimated that preparations have been in earnest for the important elections.
He stated: “For the IEC, the local government elections are one of the most important. The commission is in full gear to conduct very transparent, and credible elections on Saturday. We will endeavour to make sure that the elections are conducted as per the laws. To make it even more transparent, the IEC has invited all political parties to send in their polling agents to all of the polling stations to observe the process from start to end. Again, we are using what is called on-spot counting. So, we encourage all political parties to send their polling agents who would witness the process for them. We want them to accompany us throughout the whole process from the beginning to the end.
“Already, we have had engagements with various stakeholders including political parties, the media, security, civil society organisations and other stakeholders like the local government authorities such that we are all on the same page in terms of the conduct of these very important elections.”
He said the commission has completed the training of at least 6,000 polling staff who will be deployed across stations in the country.
“In addition to that, over 3,000 police officers are currently being deployed across the country. Of course, we have 1,555 polling stations, so, over 9,000 personnel will be deployed across these polling stations. They will be out there ready to serve the Gambian public, ready to serve the electorate from 8am to 5pm. In that light, I would say the commission is in full gear and is fully ready to conduct this very important election on Saturday.”
Among the complexities, Mr Khan added, is the issue of logistics.
“We have some big logistical undertakings to complete. In terms of the equipment, The Gambia is using a unique system of voting, which is the use of ballot drums or marbles. These are locally made materials and The Gambia takes great pride in these. We have already prepared the total number of ballot drums needed. We know that we have 29 candidates who are contesting this election.”
He said there are checks and balances in the electoral process such that the system cannot be tampered with. “The Gambia has a very transparent voting system,” he stated.