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In response to an invitation by the Gambian authorities, the European Union has deployed an Election Observation Mission (EOM) to The Gambia to observe the Parliamentary elections scheduled for 6 April 2017. This would be the first time the EU would be deploying a fully-fledged EOM in The Gambia, reflecting the EU's commitment to supporting credible, transparent and inclusive elections in the country in a framework of broader democratic reforms.
Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, has appointed Mr Miroslav Poche, Member of the European Parliament, as Chief Observer.
The High Representative stated: "The Gambia caught the world's attention in January this year, when a tense political stalemate of several weeks finally resulted in a peaceful change of leadership, thus respecting the results of presidential elections. The upcoming parliamentary elections on 6 April will be a new opportunity for the citizens of The Gambia to express their political will. Under the leadership of Chief Observer Mr Miroslav Poche, I am confident that the EU EOM will provide an important contribution to the further strengthening of democratic institutions".
The Chief Observer, Mr Miroslav Poche, declared: "I am honoured to lead the EU EOM to The Gambia. I trust all stakeholders will contribute to ensure that the upcoming elections will be peaceful, transparent and inclusive."
The EOM Core Team of seven EU election analysts arrived in The Gambia on 13 March and will stay in the country until the completion of the electoral process to prepare a comprehensive assessment of the electoral process. As from 20 March the Core Team will be joined by 14 long-term observers who will be deployed across the country, and later on for the election week on 1 April by several additional short-term observers. A delegation of the European Parliament and diplomats from EU Member States accredited to The Gambia will also reinforce the mission on election day. The EU EOM looks forward to cooperate with other international observation missions that have endorsed the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation.
Shortly after the Parliamentary elections, the mission will issue a preliminary statement of its findings at a press conference in Banjul. A final report, including recommendations for future electoral processes, will be presented at a later stage, after the finalisation of the entire electoral process.
At the request of the Gambian authorities, the deployment of an EU EOM aims to contribute to enhancing the transparency of the process and the respect for fundamental freedoms. The EU supports African efforts to reinforce the democratisation process across the continent. Since 2000, more than 70 election observation missions have been deployed by the EU in Africa.