Civil society organization in The Gambia led by West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) have certified the country’s Thursday local government elections that gave lead to United Democratic Party as ‘free, fair and transparent’.
A coalition of activists that monitored the election said though there were anomalies in the process but the integrity of the polls was not affected.
“In light of the above observation, the CSO Coalition on Elections – The Gambia is of the opinion that voting on 12 April 2018 for the Local Government Elections in the Gambia was free, fair and transparent. There were no significant anomalies or malpractices by either the political parties, candidates or their supporters or the IEC to impugn the credibility and legitimacy of the vote,” the CSOs said at a press conference on Friday.
“For that matter, we certify that the results reflect the will of the electorates. We, however, note that elections in the Gambia could still be further improved as highlighted in the following Concerns and Recommendations.”
The CSOs observed low voter turnout and urged the Independent Electoral Commission and the National Council for Civic Education to intensify their efforts at educating voters on the importance of councilor elections.
The CSOs also said that issues such as hate speech, incitement of violence, gender stereotyping and tribalised narratives were observed in many instances during the campaign.
They noted one incident of violence in the Tallinding between supporters of United Democratic Party and Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction parties.
“Accessibility to voting centers and booths to persons with disability remains a challenge,” the CSOs said.
By Mustapha K Darboe