Former Nigerian president is leading the Commonwealth observation group tasked with observing The Gambia’s Presidential Election scheduled for 4 December 2021.
The team, already in Gambia, also includes Ghana’s former Minister of Interior Prosper Bani, Kenya’s former Justice Minister Hon Martha Karua, Robert Phiri the Executive Director and Public Affairs Commission Malawi, Hendrick Gappy former Chairperson Seychelles’ Electoral Commission, Shyamala Gomez Executive Director Centre for Equality and Justice -Sri Lanka, Candia Dames -the Executive Editor of the Nassau Guardian from Bahamas, Crispin Kaheru a Commissioner for Uganda Human Rights Commission, and Musa Mwenye SC Former Attorney General of Zambia.
The deployment follows an invitation from the Independent Electoral Commission of The Gambia, and the visit of a pre-election assessment team in October, Secretary-General Patricia Scotland announced the deployment of the nine-person Commonwealth Observer Group.
The Group will be supported by Commonwealth Secretariat staff led by Linford Andrews, Head of the Electoral Support Section of the Governance and Peace Directorate.
This week’s election will be a litmus test for Gambia’s democratic transition, since the fall of the country’s dictator Yahya Jammeh’s 22 year reign ended in 2017 bringing in Adama Barrow whose transitional term is ending this year. But Barrow who had vowed to serve a three-year transitional term and not stand in fresh elections is in the race.
The Observer Group will consider all aspects of the election process and determine whether the elections are conducted in line with democratic standards to which The Gambia has committed itself. The Group will later submit its final report for consideration by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, and she will, in turn, share it with the Government of The Gambia and stakeholders.
The deployment, according to Scotland, is a demonstration of the Commonwealth’s commitment to supporting electoral democracy in member countries and a recognition of the right of individuals to participate in democratic processes, through credible, inclusive and transparent elections in shaping their societies.
SG Scotland thanked President Obasanjo for accepting my invitation to lead the team and each of the Commonwealth observers for agreeing to undertake this important assignment at this difficult time as the Commonwealth continues to promote the values of democracy despite the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.