#National News

Gambia Participates: December 4th Presidential Election was Free, Fair

Dec 8, 2021, 12:58 PM | Article By: Isatou  Ceesay-Bah

Gambia Participates, a civil-society organisation that focuses on enhancing transparency and accountability in public sector, has declared the just concluded December 4th Presidential elections as free, fair and transparent. 

 

At a recent presser held at a local hotel in Kololi, Marr Nyang, Executive Director of Gambia Participates, said as a domestic election observer in the just concluded election, they had 453 volunteers assigned to various polling station across the country.

“In vast majority of polling stations observed, persons with disabilities which stand at 94%, the elderly at 98%, pregnant women, nursing mothers at 99% and sick persons at 96% were given priority to vote before others.  

In addition, 98% of polling stations observed, the voting compartment was set up in a manner that allows voters to cast their ballots in secret. Also, 99% of polling stations observed, the ballot drums were well placed so that the voters could easily see the colour, photos and writing on the ballot drums. 8% of polling stations observed were not set up in locations that are accessible to persons with disabilities.” he added. 

 Again, 96% of polling stations, Gambia Participates’ observers reported that the polling officials conducted themselves professionally and in a non-partisan manner. In 96% of polling stations, observers reported that the security agents had conducted themselves in a professional and non-partisan manner. 

“At 100% of polling stations observed, every potential voter was asked to show their voters ID before being allowed to vote. At 100% of polling stations, polling officials checked every potential voter’s fingers for indelible ink prior to voting. In 100% of polling stations, indelible ink was applied to the cuticle of a finger of every voter before they were allowed to vote.”

The report also disclosed that in 98% of polling units, voter details were systematically checked against the register of voters. 

 “There were no queues at 5:00pm in 52% of polling stations. In 46% of polling stations, everyone on the queue at 5:00pm was given an opportunity to vote. However, in 4% of polling units people who joined the queue after 5:00pm were allowed to vote; these violations were mostly reported from the Central River Region (North) and Lower River Region. 31% of polling stations completed voting before 5:00 pm, while 85% completed by 5:30 pm, 10% of polling stations completed voting at 6:30pm and 5% of polling stations completed voting after 6:30pm.” he further explained. 

However, Nyang indicated that the just concluded election no doubt had been highly competitive as it marked the start of a healthy democracy to help provide voters with alternatives. Although that in some sense, Nyang added,  also polarizes the society. 

“Now that this phase of the election is over, we all need to understand that there is more that unites us than divides us. We need to hold hands across political and ethnic divides and work for the common good of The Gambia. Gambia Participates therefore called on all citizens, candidates and supporters to remain calm and peaceful, and reject any call for violence. The traditional and religious institutions should also use this political transition period to encourage their adherents to promote peace in The Gambia.” he added. 

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