By Mama A. Touray
The Program Manager of the Gambia Participates, Annetta BB Mahoney, on Sunday, echoed that 46.6% of the voter population turned out for this election.
Speaking at the press briefing held at Bakadagi Hotel in Kololi on Sunday, Madam BB Mahoney, described the turned out as a significant improvement compared to the 29% voter turnout in the same election in 2018.
She said, “Gambia Participates continues to reiterate its call to the National Assembly to consider legislation to harmonize the conduct of elections and has the presidential and parliamentary elections conducted on the same day and local council, mayoral and chairmanship elections on the same day.”
She added that conducting all these elections on the same day could potentially improve voter participation and reduce the cost of elections.
Madam Mahoney told members of the press that ahead of the May 20, 2023, Mayoral and Chairmanship Elections, Gambia Participates deployed 53 long-term observers to observe and report the outcome of the nomination processes and the general pre-election environment.
She said further that on Election Day, a total of 207 observers were deployed, 154 of those served as stationary observers and 53 as mobile observers in all the 53 constituencies of The Gambia. Prior to their deployment, she said, their accredited observers were well-trained and equipped to independently observe the pre – and election-day activities.
She, however, revealed that in 5% of polling stations, people were seen canvassing for votes (i.e., asking voters to vote for a particular candidate) around the polling stations.
She said these were Specifically observed in 22nd July Square and Bethel Church polling stations in Banjul Central, Gidda polling station in Lower Fulladu West, Mauritania School polling station in Bundungka Kunda, St. Peter’s Primary School polling station in Busumbala, Nemakunku and Old Yundum Bantaba polling stations in old Yundum.
Observers reported that in 3% of polling stations, there were incidents of harassment and intimidation of polling officials, party/candidate agents, or observers during the counting of ballot tokens.
These were said to be observed in Marche Ngelew polling station in Serekunda, Jinack Kajata Bantaba polling station in Lower Niumi, Medina Bafuloto Market polling station in Upper Niumi, and Gunjur Kunkujang Bantaba polling station in Kombo South.
“Vote buying and voter inducement are becoming more prevalent in our elections and more needs to be done by authorities to sanction vote buying. Vote buying reduces citizen confidence in elections and for this to be addressed, the IEC must work with law enforcement and anti-corruption bodies to deploy sufficient officials during electoral campaigns and on election day to detect, deter and punish acts of electoral clientele,” she said.