By Nelson Manneh
Elections Watch Committee (EWC) has recommended for the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to publish all election results including the 2021 presidential and National Assembly election results on its website.
The EWC indicated this and other recommendations in the final report of their election observation, tabled before the media and other stakeholders on Friday 29th July 2022.
EWC is the decision-making body on all matters relating to the Elections Watch Project.
The Elections Watch Project is being financed with assistance from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and technical support from the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI).
The EWC in its observation efforts seek to promote youth participation in the electoral cycle as well as facilitate a well-coordinated and organized observation of the electoral reform and election process. The EWC promotes a transparent and accountable electoral process in The Gambia.
The EWC further recommended for IEC to enhance the training of IEC staff to ensure they adequately understand election procedures, rules and regulations including the role of observers in the process to avoid any confusion and ensure that polling locations are accessible to all voters, particularly the elderly and persons with disabilities.
They also recommended the IEC to appoint more women as presiding officers in future elections.
To political parties and the Inter-Party Committee (IPC), EWC recommended party supporters to stop spreading false information, hate speech and violent actions.
“Consider monitoring and enforcing the IPC code of conduct for political parties to minimize incidents of hate speech and other forms of political tolerance and utilize the prescribed legal process to pursue any complaints or grievances,” EWC recommended.
EWC recommended for the media to demonstrate professionalism in reporting and ensure citizens continue to receive accurate information about election related matters, even after the elections.
On Women Participation
The EWC report has indicated that women form about 57% of the general voter population making them the largest group that participates in electing candidates.
In all EWC observations, women’s participation has been one of the priorities that they have been keeping track of. As they are one of the most marginalized groups in the country, women take a lot of limitations in terms of participation in elections as a result of the religious and cultural beliefs of most Gambians.
“This limits the participation of women most especially as candidates in the electoral cycle of the country. Out of the 23 aspirants that submitted their nominations, there was only one woman aspirant, whose nomination was subsequently rejected,” the report stated.
In the National Assembly election, the EWC observer report indicated that only 3 seats out of 53 seats were won by women. Moreover, in other elections observed by the EWC such as the Niamina West By-election and the Local Government By-election, there was limited participation of women candidates as well.
However, EWC findings stated that the IEC did an impressive job in voter registration, presidential and national assembly elections with the recruitment of women as polling staff to work on the elections; that in all the centers that EWC observers visited, there was at least one woman serving as polling officer.
EWC is a partnership of three youth-led organizations with different expertise and background—Peace Ambassadors The Gambia (PAG), ACTIVISTA and the National Youth Parliament (NYP). They collaborate to observe the electoral process in The Gambia.