The European Union will be observing the Gambia’s parliamentary polls, the West African nation’s electoral commission said.
EU hopes its participation in next month’s election will contribute to strengthening democratic institutions, building public confidence in electoral processes, helping to deter fraud, intimidation, and violence.
The EU was denied rights to observe the Gambia’s last election. It the country’s main development partner and came to its immediate aid after the ouster of former ruler Yahya Jammeh.
Only the African Union thought it worthwhile to send observers and, according to one of those who led the last mission there for the 2011 elections, staying away is not prudent.
Jammeh had emptied state coffers and embezzled billions during his 22-year rule of the peanut exporting nation. He fled to Equatorial Guinea where longtime autocratic ruler Theodore Obiang gave him a safe haven.
Jammeh had rejected the results in which he was defeated by President Adama Barrow. He accused the electoral commission of fraud and rigging the polls.
He accused the international community of putting pressure on the commission and influencing the polls in favor of the coalition.
The coalition that brought Barrow to power is, however, divided over how to stay united ahead of parliamentary polls. A tactical alliance supported by majority of the political parties is falling apart.