Chief electoral officer Pansy Tlakula calls for a quota system to improve women's representation in the public and private sector during a breakfast where she addressed business leaders in Johannesburg, Friday, 6 May 2011.
Tlakula said the Independent Electoral Commission
was not happy with the number of women candidates
in the local government elections to be held on May 18.
Out of 53,000 candidates only 37 percent are women.
Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Gambia fights AU request for fact-finding mission ahead of presidential polls

The African Union said The Gambia is resisting fact-finding missions requested by its rights commission despite the fact that it hosts the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights.

An attempt by the African Union to address the country’s deteriorating rights conditions have been largely unwelcomed by Gambian authorities. The African rights commission has called on President Yahya Jammeh’s government to release all political prisoners and to refrain from further rights abuses ahead of the country’s presidential poll.

Gambians head to the polls in December and rights groups including Article 19 West Africa has called on the international community to pay close attention to the increased tension and government crackdown on opposition activists.

At least 30 opposition activists have been jailed and many of them were reportedly tortured leading to the death of a senior opposition member Ebrima Solo Sandeng. The African Union said women protesters were sexually assaulted and suffered untold indignation.

AU rights commissioner Faith Pansy Tlakula was former electoral chief of South Africa.

The UN rights commission said it is also seeking to conduct a fact-finding mission after credible reports of detainees being denied urgent medical care surfaced. Another activist, Ebrima Solo Nkrumah died after repeated request for medical care were denied. Gambian authorities have not responded to the UN rights commission’s request.

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