BANJUL (CU)_Gambians will head to polls on Saturday (4 Dec), to elect the country’s president, as just a week before the vote, 15 candidates were disqualified by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in the country. This will be the first presidential election in The Gambia since the country’s long time ruler Yahya Jammeh fled the country four years ago.
Accordingly, on Saturday, Commonwealth Election Observer Group arrived in the capital city of Banjul, to observe the vote. The group, led by Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, will meet political parties, the police, citizen observer groups, civil society groups and the media.
“We recognise the significance of this presidential election to the people of The Gambia, and the historical context in which this contest is taking place. We also recognise the particular challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic – both in terms of campaigning and election administration,” read a statement issued by Prosper Bani, former Ghanaian Minister of Interior, who is also a part of the Observer Group.
“Our mandate, as set out in the Commonwealth’s ‘Revised Guidelines’ for election observation is to observe and evaluate the pre-election environment, polling day activities and the post-election period. We will consider whether conditions exist for a credible, transparent and inclusive election.”
The Group is expected to deploy small teams to each of the six regions in the West African nation on Thursday. These teams will meet with stakeholders in their respective areas and observe electoral preparation processes. Their responsibilities on Election Day involved the observation of opening, voting, closing, as well as counting and results management procedures.
Their preliminary findings will be issued on Monday, before the Group leaves Gambia on 10 December.
Members of the Commonwealth Observer Group, include some of the prominent figures in the African continent, including Martha Karua, the Former Minister of Justice of Kenya, and Hendrick Gappy, the former chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Seychelles.