By Sanna Camara
The CSO Coalition on Elections – The Gambia has urged the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the Government and the Opposition Parties to create the space and mechanism to dialogue so as to forestall any incidence of election boycott or marginalization.
In its preliminary report on the Local Government elections issued on the 5th April, CSO Coalition decries “the lack of participation of the majority of our political parties in yet another election”, which it said, does not augur well for effective national governance and development.
The coalition, having observed election in more than 100 polling stations in various parts of the Gambia, said all stakeholders have a duty to ensure that dialogue prevails as a means to reach a common ground. It deployed twenty election observers across the country “who observed the opening, voting, closing and counting of polls.”
Concerns and recommendations
Although it observes “the generally peaceful and orderly” voting process throughout the country, their report “highlights concerns and recommendations on the general conduct of the elections and related matters.”
It said the issue of low voter turnout “continues to be raised and the Coalition therefore wishes to re-echo calls for a study to be conducted to determine public perception and reasons for non-participation in elections so as to find solutions to promote large voter turnout in elections.”
National civic and voter education program
“Furthermore, in the observation report of the previous National Assembly elections, the CSO Coalition had suggested that there is need for the Government to put in place a comprehensive and fully funded national civic and voter education program, which should also target schools. For this purpose, the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE), as the national agency for civic education, needs to be strengthened and empowered to effectively conduct civic education on a continuous basis throughout the country,” it said.
Land and population sizes of constituencies
As highlighted in the recommendations of the previous parliamentary elections, the coalition notes that “there continues to be wide disparity between land and population sizes of constituencies, which require urgent attention.”
The CSO Coalition therefore recommends that the Constituency Boundaries Commission be established by an Act of the National Assembly as stipulated in Section 50 of the Gambia Constitution 1997 to redraw constituencies to ensure fair and equal representation in line with the constitution.