The Gambia's democratic system, under President Jammeh, has seen numerous positive developments from 1994 to date compared to the First Republic, when the responsibility of conducting elections in the country fell under a specific ministry, characterised by its usual complaints of fraud and lack of transparency.
The IEC for its part went through a series of challenges but has managed to overcome them with determination. It has succeeded in meeting the expectations of a credible independent election body in a developing country. In this light, our electoral process and system have on several occasions been hailed by both local and international observers as free, fair and transparent, devoid of fraud and deceit.
This country stands out among a few countries in Africa where the entire process of elections is conducted in a peaceful atmosphere. The voter roll is made public for general and open scrutiny to avoid any foul play. Political parties campaign equally on the political platform and above all the party agents witness this unique democratic process from voter registration to the counting of votes.
Suffice to say, agents of all political parties are always present from the registration process to counting of votes. And the party agents approve the results prior to the result sheet reaching the returning officer for public announcement, thus making conditions for vote rigging impossible.In addition, the election management body (IEC) allocates equal campaign schedule to all parties, and distributes the daily schedule of the national media among them.
The introduction of on the spot counting by the IEC as observed by the African Union Observers of the just concluded parliamentary polls indeed is another plus in making the country's electoral system more transparent.The IEC indeed deserves applause for manifestly proving to the nation that it will not abandon its founding principles -integrity, fair play and transparency.
Free, fair and transparent election is of course one of the most fundamental pillars of democracy. This is because election is the only effective mechanism through which citizens deliver verdict on the management of their destiny and as well make meaningful choices in selecting the best among the people to administer the common good.
The IEC's commitment to making elections in The Gambia free, fair and transparent has indeed made democratic dispensation in The Gambia, otherwise called the Smiling Coast of Africa a model to reckon with.We are also optimistic that the IEC will adjust to the recommendations put forward by the observer missions so that in future the standard of our electoral system can be elevated to another level.