The unique but customary way Gambians cast their votes in the 2021 presidential election did not hinder transparency, according to Commonwealth observers.
Issuing the Group’s interim statement in Banjul, Chairperson former President of Nigeria, HE 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, HE Olusegun Obasanjo said, “The Gambia has come a long way”, noting an improvement on previous elections.
However, the Group has recommended that the Independent Electoral Commission establishes a robust communication unit to which the public and press can submit complaints – as well as seek clarifications on issues pertaining to elections.
The Group commended the people of The Gambia for the largely peaceful, calm, and orderly way they cast their vote and appealed to them to maintain the same commitment in the post-election period, even as the country prepares to return to the polls in April 2022 for the legislative elections.
In the run-up to Election Day, the Group met with a broad range of stakeholders including the Independent Electoral Commission, political parties, presidential aspirants, representatives of civil society – including women and youth groups – 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.