The Gambia: Election observers urged to measure up to expectation

3 Apr

By Lamin Jahateh

All the organizations and individuals assigned to cover the 4 April local government elections in The Gambia should measure up to expectation by being objective in their observations, the chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said.

Alhaji Mustapha Carayol made this statement on Tuesday while briefing more than 200 elections observers, local and international, in Banjul.

The IEC chairman told the election observers to write and submit the report of their observations so that their concerns and advice can be considered.

The objective of election observation is to ascertain the fairness and freeness of the elections and render credibility to eventual results of the elections to both the national and international community.

The IEC chairman said elections will be held in 45 wards out of the 114 wards, as the ruling APRC party candidates in all the other constituencies are unopposed.

In the same vein, 761 polling stations out of the 1,300 polling stations will be used.  Also, 481,884 voters are to vote in the upcoming elections. Polls will be open at 8am to 5pm, but if voters are in the queue at 5pm, they should be allowed to vote.

Chairman Carayol said 97 Assistant Returning Officers have been employed to work in the 46 wards countrywide.

He said counting will be done at the polling station at the close of polls. There are seven collation centres, and 3,069 polling staff are contracted to man the polling stations.

Commenting on security arrangements for the election, the police commissioner of operation, Ousman Gibba said 1,522 police officers have been deployed to man all the polling stations where there will be voting.

At the close of the nomination of candidates on 16 March 2013, four candidates got nominated for the position of mayor for the Banjul City Council.  One of these candidates is from the ruling APRC party and the other three are independent.

For the Kanifing Municipal Council, biggest municipality in the country, two candidates were nominated for the mayoral seat – one from the APRC and one independent candidate.

For the councillorship, the APRC fielded in candidates in all the 114 wards.  The National Reconciliation Party, the only opposition party taking part in the local government elections, fielded in 10 candidates.  Forty (40) candidates got their candidature approved by the IEC as independent candidates– not standing under any party ticket.  However, one of them later withdrew later.

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