By: Binta Jaiteh
Groups of civil organizations comprised of WANEP – The Gambia, National Human Rights Commission, and National Election Response Group (NERG) have advised the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) not to use health centers as polling stations referencing the case of Ebo Town Badala Polling Station.
According to their report, IEC should ensure adequate training for their staff to provide efficient election services. In this regard, IEC is encouraged to make use of modern technology for the effective compilation and timely release of the election result.
“Minimum standards of gender representation as recommended by legislation should be adhered to by the Government among IEC commissioners and senior management staff and also given the technical and institutional challenges; there is a need for urgent legal and institutional reforms to modernize the electoral system for greater efficiency, transparency, and accountability in elections.”
The report also added that Political parties should assume their responsibilities as key electoral stakeholders in maintaining the integrity of the electoral system by adhering to electoral laws and standards and promoting popular participation and intra-party democracy. The continuous challenges faced by PWDs in accessing polling facilities and election information calls for urgent address by the IEC and the Gambia Government.
However, the report said basically, stakeholders should continue and expand on voter education, especially on the significance of local government elections. “We reiterate the urgent need to equip the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) with adequate human, financial and material resources to continue to deliver civic and voter education countrywide continuous refresher training for journalists should be conducted on election matters.”
However, advocacy to get more women into politics, through affirmative action, mentorship, and training in public speaking for aspiring women candidates and Persons with Disabilities.
In conclusion, “we are concerned about the low voter turnout for Local Government elections.
“In this respect, we wish to urge voters to recognize and appreciate the importance of every election in their lives and take a very active part in them. Similarly, we wish to urge everyone to refrain from hate speech, violence, and any acts that have the potential to undermine social cohesion and unity, and the integrity and peaceful conduct of the elections,” it concluded.