The African Union has dispatched a Pre-election fact-finding Mission to The Gambia to assess the preparations for the upcoming December Presidential elections which is already tense.
This mission is part of African Union’s aim of promoting democratic governance on the continent.
Gambians go to the polls in December in which incumbent President Yahya Jammeh is seeking for a fifth term facing more and stronger opposition parties compared to past elections.
In line with the national laws of The Gambia, the Mission shall contribute to the reinforcement of the democratization process in the country by providing an objective, independent and impartial assessment of the conduct of the elections in line with the aforementioned international and regional best practices and standards.
Guy Cyrille Tapokp, Acting head, Democracy and Electoral Assistance Unit (DEAU) at the African Union Commission tweeted Monday announcing the arrival of the Mission in The Gambia and meeting the Gambia government officials specifically, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Mama Fatima Singhateh at her office.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, September 28th, the Mission met with all political parties at the Independent Electoral Commission Headquarters to gauge the elections preparedness and identify areas for further support.
It could be recalled that formal invitation to the African Union, according to paragraphs V (1) and V (3) of the OAU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa (2002), is to be made by the country organising the elections, either through the National Electoral Commission (NEC), or electoral authority, or the said government, in accordance with the democratic legal framework of the country, as necessary elements for mounting observations.
The AU, after receiving the invitation to observe an election, must ensure: adequate lead-time for preparations; availability of essential planning information; availability of professional expertise; and financial and other resources.
Therefore, the AU expeditiously dispatches a team to the country planning for the election.
The existence of a “level playing field”, which determines the conditions for electoral competition, is an important aspect that needs evaluation when determining the likely character of the electoral process.
In advance of the election date, the Head of the AU Election Mission will advise the AU Commission whether the necessary conditions and environment for a free and fair election as agreed in the AU principles governing democratic elections, have been satisfied and whatever the advice received by the Commission will be confirmed in a public statement by the Chairperson of the Commission.
The assessment team will establish whether or not conditions for organizing credible, legitimate, free and fair elections in accordance with the Durban Declaration are in place in the country.