The Commonwealth Observer Group has presented its final report on Gambia’s 2021 presidential elections. The Group deemed the election peaceful, credible, transparent, and inclusive, and offered recommendations for consideration to improve future elections.
The Government of the Republic of The Gambia has officially received the Commonwealth Observer Group report for the 2021 Gambia Presidential Election from a team deployed by the Secretary-General, The Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland QC.
This follows an invitation from the Independent Electoral Commission of The Gambia (IEC) for the Commonwealth Observer Group (COG; ‘The Group’) to observe the 4 December 2021 presidential election. The Group arrived in Banjul on 26 November 2021, led by the former president of Nigeria, H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, and were supported throughout their mission by Commonwealth Secretariat staff led by Mr Linford Andrews, Adviser and Head of the Electoral Support Section.
In April, a team led by Ms Lindiwe Maleleka, Political Adviser (Electoral Support Section) at the Secretariat, returned to Banjul to convey its findings to the Gambian government and various stakeholders, including the IEC, senior government officials, and representatives of political parties and civil society.
The team, which was also present in The Gambia during the April legislative elections, discussed practical ways of implementing the Group’s recommendations on how to improve future electoral processes.
Elections were peaceful, credible, transparent and inclusive
The final report provides a comprehensive assessment of the entire electoral process – before, during and after the polls – and builds on the initial findings of the preliminary statement that was issued shortly after the elections in December 2021.
The Group’s overall assessment was that, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the election, as a whole, was peaceful, credible, transparent, and inclusive. However, some electoral processes can be further strengthened, the report noted, offering several recommendations for consideration by electoral stakeholders to contribute towards the deepening of democracy and strengthening of the electoral processes.
The Group also commended the voters for turning out in significant numbers on Election Day and for their patience, resilience, and commitment to their country’s democratic process. They congratulated the IEC and polling staff, the political parties and their leaders, the Inter-Party Committee, civil society, the media, and the security forces for their respective roles in ensuring peaceful elections.
The Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, said:
“I am proud and grateful for what the Observer Group and Secretariat staff were able to achieve at the time considering the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. I will be following The Gambia’s progress in line with all the recommendations contained in the report and offer all necessary support in the context of our full electoral cycle approach”.
As is customary Commonwealth practice, the final report of the Group was finalised in The Gambia before the Group’s departure.
In the months ahead, the Commonwealth Secretariat intends to undertake another follow-up visit on the implementation of the observer recommendations.