By Mustapha Jallow
The unique but customary way Gambians cast their votes in the 2021 presidential election did not hinder transparency, according to officials of the Commonwealth Election Observer Mission.
The Commonwealth election observers were among many domestic and international observers who took part in this year’s presidential election of the Gambia, held on December 4, 2021.
In issuing the Group’s interim statement in Banjul, the Chairperson and former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo, said: “The Gambia’s unique marble voting system has once again allowed all Gambians who voted, to do so in a transparent manner.
“While we note that there are different views on the value of this system, we therefore urge further dialogue to ensure that all Gambians are able to reflect thoroughly on this, as well as other areas, within the context of the unimplemented reforms that will need to be addressed in the next electoral cycle.”
Referring to press freedom, Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo remarked: “The Gambia has come a long way in improving on previous elections.”
However, the Group recommended that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) establish a robust communication unit to which the public and press can submit complaints as well as seek clarification on issues pertaining to elections.
The Group commended the people of The Gambia for largely being peaceful, calm, and orderly as they cast their votes. They, however, appealed to them to maintain the same commitment during the post-election period.
In the run-up to Election Day, the Group met with a broad range of stakeholders including the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), political parties, presidential aspirants, representatives of civil society including women and youth groups, the media, the police, and other observers.
On Election Day, the group was deployed across the country, covering seven provinces.
The final report, which will set out the full findings on the process and recommendations in greater detail, will be submitted to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, and thereafter shared with the Government of The Gambia, the Electoral Commission, political parties, and Commonwealth Governments before being made public.