By Nelson Manneh
The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance and the CSO Coalition on Elections in The Gambia, on Thursday, 21st October 2021 commenced stakeholder dialogue on electoral risks in Gambia.
The purpose of the dialogue is to create awareness among Gambian electoral stakeholders on the concept and guiding principles of risk management in elections, and provide a platform for stakeholders to identify key action points to address identified risks ahead of the 2021 presidential election in Gambia.
The stakeholder dialogue on electoral risk management will expose Gambian electoral stakeholders to the concept and guiding principles of risk management in elections, and allow stakeholders to identify key action points to address identified risks ahead of the 2021 presidential elections.
Participants were drawn from civil society organisations, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the police, political parties, religious and traditional rulers.
The national dialogue was organised as part of International IDEA’s Peaceful Elections Project in the Gambia, which is funded by the United Kingdom Government. International IDEA will offer participants a reasonable transportation allowance for the duration of the workshop.
Mr. Julius Freeman the Vice Chairperson, National Elections Response for his part said as Gambia prepares for the December 2021 presidential election, which is the first since the exit of President Jammeh, the election will be keenly contested because of the opening of the ‘political space’. In the context of the upcoming presidential election in a multi-party system, the process is likely to distinguish itself significantly from previous electoral cycles in the Gambia,” he said.
He said the higher number of political actors and high expectations around the stakes of the upcoming cycle will raise scrutiny and therefore it is hard to foresee number of challenges and disputes. Several other potential drivers of violence – identified in monthly hotspot analyses developed by International IDEA – are of growing concern for Gambian citizens and international partners. These include: inter and intra party conflict, distrust of the IEC, limited technical capacity of the IEC to deliver the elections, sustained threats of violence during the elections because of ethno-political divisions and use of inflammatory language and propaganda during the campaigns.
“Starting from the voter registration through the announcement of results, political party leaders, CS0, the media, the IEC and the security sector agencies, have a key role to play in mitigating and responding to conflicts early enough as to provide peaceful resolutions. In similar contexts, it is assessed that it is the failure to identify electoral stakeholders’ grievances early, and provide early response to those, who could lead to enhanced level of violene throughout the electoral process,” he noted.
International IDEA is deploying its electoral risk management methodology in support of civil society organisations in Gambia. The CSO Coalition on Electoral Reforms in Gambia is adopting the ERMT with an aim to enhance institutional capacity to understand electoral risk factors, to collect and analyze risk data in order to make better informed and conflict sensitive electoral decisions. It is expected that the use of the tool will strengthen practical collaboration between the CSOs, the Independent Electoral Commission (EC), security sector agencies and other actors involved in the electoral processes, including political parties.
International IDEA and the CSO Coalition on Electoral Reforms are organizing a stakeholder dialogue on electoral risk management on 21 October 2021.