Gambia Asked To Strengthen Independence Of The IEC

By Abdoulie John

The Chief Mission of the European Union Election Follow-up Mission (EU EFM), Miroslav Poche, reminded Gambia government to strengthen the ‘institutional independence’ of the country’s elections body. He suggested the establishment of ‘inclusive mechanism’ for selection and appointment of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Chairperson and Commissioners.

The visiting EU top official made these remarks Thursday during a press conference held at Ocean Bay Hotel in Cape Point, some 7 km away from Banjul.

Miroslav Poche held round-table talks with major electoral stakeholders as part of the follow-up mission of the 31 recommendations formulated in September 2017 by the European bloc in order to improve upcoming electoral processes.

Re-echoeing the EU recommendations, Poche emphasized the importance to ensure the security of the IEC Commission’s tenure.

He further indicated that government should ensure that the independence of the Gambia’s electoral body is translated into action by “providing the IEC with full sovereignty  over its budget; as well as a legal requirement for the IEC Commission to make joint decisions, particularly on results.”

Since the advent of the new regime, Gambian authorities have initiated a series of institutional and constitutional reforms geared towards turning the country into a veritable democracy.

The recommendations, he went on, also dealt with the voting process. “The voter registry needs improvements,” he added.

Meanwhile, in a statement issued late Thursday evening, the EU EFM Chief Mission acknowledged the relevance of the 31 recommendations.

“The Gambia is in a period of transition, which offers an unprecedented opportunity to promote legal and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. Much legal reform has already been initiated in an inclusive process. It is important that these reforms come to fruition in advance of the next election, to provide legal certainty for stakeholders,” he remarked.

When asked whether these recommendations as part of conditionalities tied to the the bilateral cooperation between the EU and The Gambia, Ambassador Attila Lajos responded in the negative…


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