Gambia: EU Observation Mission - to Ensure Gambia Meet International Electoral Standards

Miroslav Poche Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic who also doubles as Adviser to the Minister has disclosed that the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) is here to ensure the Gambia meets international electoral standards.

He made these remarks on Thursday, October 10th 2019 in a press conference by the EU delegation in the Gambia, held in a local hotel, in Bakau.

The EU deployed an Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to the Gambia to observe the National Assembly Elections in 2017. The EU EOM final report, published in September 2017, offered 31 recommendations to improve future electoral processes in line with international and regional standards.

A press release from them said: "A follow-up the mission (EU EOM) to The Gambia is now in the country in order to assess the progress on the implementation of these recommendations and to appraise- going electoral reform. This EU EOM is led by Mr. Miroslav Poche, who served as the Chief Observation of the EU EOM 2017, accompanied by two members of the EU staff and two electoral experts.

"The mission has met w wide range of Gambian electoral stakeholders, including H.E. President Adama Barrow, members of the Government of the Gambia, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC), the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), National Assembly Members, political parties and representatives of civil society", the released stated.

The released added: the Chief of mission, Miroslav Poche, opened a round- table meeting of electoral stakeholders this morning (the morning before the press conference) to discuss the recommendations. Continuing support for the relevance of the recommendations was confirmed.

"Significance strides have been made in interpreting pre-existing legislation in line with international standards for democratic elections. The mission has encountered widespread consensus among interlocutors that electoral and constitutional reform is necessary", said the release, adding this is a historic opportunity to renew the social contract between the state and the people of the Gambia.

The EU EOM made 31 recommendations on 8 key areas among them, Election Administration, Legal Framework, Voter Registration, Campaign, Political Parties, and Campaign Finance, Media, Participation of Women, Participation of persons with disabilities and Electoral Justice.

The release stated that several of the recommendations require constitutional change, furthermore, and women's participation of high priority as well as the independence of the IEC and the GRTS by altering the appointment system.

"Other recommendation could be achieved through changes to legislation alone", it noted, and adding constituency boundaries at present provide for vast variation in the numbers of voters for the constituency, ranging from 1,980 to 46, 502.

"The EU is eager and willing to engage in close co-operation with the Gambia with a view to the maintenance and ever- further- deepening of democracy", the released concluded.

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