Report

The African Union (AU) Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) has raised concerns over the non-candidature of women in The Gambia’s 2021 presidential election despite their demographic advantage.

It is understood that women represent more than half of the population in The Gambia and comprise 57 percent of voters.

However, of the six presidential candidates in the country’s December election, none was a woman, according to the AU observer group’s preliminary report on the poll.

The report also noted that the AUEOM received concerns about hate speech and misinformation, particularly on social media platforms.

The AUEOM however commended the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), parties and candidates for deploying women and youth as polling officials and agents.

It noted that the voting process was peaceful and that polling staff and voters showed commitment and professionalism.

The AUEOM report also stated that it observed opening procedures at 24 polling stations across 19 constituencies in The Gambia.

‘The report also noted that voting proceeded uninterrupted in most polling stations visited throughout the day. Where there was an interruption, it was for less than ten minutes’, it stated.

‘The secrecy of the vote was guaranteed in all polling stations visited. The AUEOM noted that priority and assistance were extended to persons with disabilities (PWDs), the elderly, expecting women, mothers with infants, and other persons with special needs.

‘Counting took place in a peaceful atmosphere at all polling stations visited by the AUEOM. All the necessary documentation was completed, and results were posted at the polling station after candidate agents were provided with copies of the results form.

‘Based on its pre-election assessment and election day findings, the AUEOM concludes that the [0]4 December 2021 presidential election was conducted in a peaceful and democratic environment and conforms to national and international standards’.

The report called on political parties to take more deliberate steps to adopt affirmative action to increase the participation of women, youth, and people with disabilities in decision making.

Additionally, the AUEOM urged the country’s National Assembly and government to make efforts to pass the Electoral Bill and continue with constitutional review.

Source: African Union

Photo source: Guy Peterson/AFP

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