Following an invitation from the Independent Electoral Commission of The Gambia, the European Union (EU) has deployed an Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to observe the Parliamentary Elections, scheduled for 6 April, 2017. The EU EOM is led by Mr. Miroslav Poche, a member of the European Parliament from the Czech Republic. This will be the first fully-fledged EU EOM ever deployed to The Gambia.
The EU EOM is politically independent from the EU Delegation in Banjul and from EU Member States. The mission's mandate is to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the electoral process and to assess compliance of those elections with domestic legislation as well as regional commitments and international standards for democratic elections agreed by The Gambia.
The EU Election Observation Mission focuses on all aspects of the election process, including:
- The overall environment of the elections, including respect for fundamental freedoms, civil and political rights;
- The legal framework and its implementation;
- The performance of the election administration;
- The role of state institutions and civil society;
- Voter registration;
- Campaign activities and campaign finance;
- The conduct of the media, including online information sources and social media;
- The participation of woman and vulnerable groups;
- The election-related dispute resolution;
- The counting, tallying and announcement of the results.
On Election Day, the EU EOM will observe opening of polling stations across the country, voting and counting as well as the tabulation of results.
In the course of its observation, the EU EOM will meet with representatives of election management bodies, of relevant state and local authorities and of political parties, as well as with representatives of civil society, the media and the international community.
The EU EOM operates in accordance with the “Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation” adopted at the United Nations in 2005 by a number of international bodies involved in election observation.
The EU EOM applies a well-established methodology for observing elections. EU Election Observation Missions do not in any way interfere in the electoral process, including by offering advice or correcting any shortcomings. The EU EOM also does not validate the election results.
The mission has the mandate to observe, collect and analyze information concerning various stages of the electoral process and to ensure that all findings and conclusions of the EU EOM are based on independently verified factual information.
The EU deploys experienced observers who come from a variety of professional backgrounds and are drawn from all EU member states, as well as Canada, Norway and Switzerland. Prior to the deployment, the EU provides observers with a comprehensive training in the different aspects of election observation, ensuring a coherent implementation of the methodology in all countries the EU is observing elections.
At all times the observers are bound by a code of conduct for EU Election Observers that ensures their neutrality and impartiality.
Observers deployed throughout The Gambia
Following an invitation from the Independent Electoral Commission of The Gambia, the European Union has deployed an EOM to Banjul on 13 March. The EU EOM is headed by Mr. Miroslav Poche, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from the Czech Republic and for the time being consists of six experts based in Banjul. A data analyst will also join the mission at a later stage. The core team’s analysis encompasses political, electoral, media and legal issues related to the electoral process.
In accordance with the EU standard methodology, it is important for each EOM to have a long-term, country-wide observation approach, enabling a full and substantive analysis of an election not only in the capital, but also in the provinces. Thus, a group of 14 long-term observers (LTOs) will arrive in Banjul on 20 March and after a briefing provided by core team analysts will be deployed in multinational teams of two across the country. To broaden its scope of observation, close to the election day the EU EOM will deploy 14 short-term observers to monitor proceedings on election day and the tabulation of the results.
For election day, the EU EOM will also be joined by a small delegation from the European Parliament (EP) and locally-recruited short term observers from EU member states’ diplomatic representations.
In total the mission will comprise up to 50 observers drawn from EU member states, as well as Canada and Norway.
Findings of the mission
The information collected by the mission forms the basis for its preliminary statement that will be presented at a press conference within 48 hours after election day. This preliminary statement will outline the EU EOM's initial findings and conclusions and the extent to which the mission considers the election has so far been conducted in line with national law and regional and international standards that underpin democratic elections. The preliminary statement is a public document and will be posted on this website as well as distributed to the media at the press conference.
At a later stage a comprehensive final report will be presented to the Gambian authorities and other electoral stakeholders. The final report will also contain recommendations offered for consideration by the authorities, political parties and civil society of The Gambia, in further support of their efforts to improve conduct of future elections in line with national legislation and international commitments for democratic elections. As with the preliminary statement, the final report is a public document.