Jan 7, 2011, 12:40 PM
The Civil Society Organizations, CSO Coalition, on Friday released its final observation report on the 24th November 2011 presidential election, declaring that the process was free and transparent as far as voting day was concerned.
In a 19-page report issued at a press conference held at the TANGO office in Kanifing, the CSO Coalition said despite ECOWAS’s failure to send an observer mission to observe the polls, the CSO Coalition mission noted widespread peace and calm on election day, during which voters cast their ballot without intimidation.
The regional bloc, ECOWAS boycotted the 24th November polls, saying in a statement that: “the conditions prevailing in the country do not meet the minimum standards set under the Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance for the conduct of elections and has, therefore, decided to exercise the discretionary powers conferred on the Commission’s President under the Protocol to stand down the ECOWAS Observer Mission.”
“In the light of the foregoing, the CSO Coalition wishes to declare that the 24th November 2011 Presidential Elections were free and transparent in so far as voting day was concerned,” the report stated.
Noting that the election was free as all voters had the freedom to vote without intimidation or coercion, the CSO Coalition noted that there was easy access to voting centers, and where necessary persons with disabilities and other difficulties were assisted to vote.
The Coalition identified and recommended a number of issues pertinent to a free, fair and transparent election, for which the creation of a level playing field such as access to public media, use of state resources, use of local government and traditional structures were highlighted.
The CSO coalition also recommended, among others, the need to promote the environment for a national dialogue; more space and involvement of CSOs; for the public media give full and unbiased coverage to all parties and views; strengthening the IEC and the Electoral System; conduct of civic awareness programs and voter education, as well as for the Gambia Government to fulfill its national and international law obligations.
Established in August 2006, the CSO Coalition is a home-grown initiative which, among others, aims to enable CSOs to actively contribute towards national development through the promotion of democratic principles, good governance, the rule of law and human rights in The Gambia.