Africa-Press – Gambia. Members of the Election Watch Committee (EWC) have urged political parties to train their agents on election procedures to understand their role in observing the voting and counting process. These statements were made during a press conference on the 2022 National Assembly elections held on 9th April.
EWC is a partnership of three organizations with different expertise and background collaborating to observe elections in The Gambia. The committee includes the Peace Ambassadors- The Gambia (PAG), Activista, and the National Youth Parliament (NYP). This committee is the decision-making body on all matters relating to the 2021 election watch project. Where PAG serves as the secretariat of the committee, the election watch project is being financed with assistance from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and technical support from the National Democratic Institute for international affairs (NDI).
Speaking at the press conference, Ndegen Jobe, program manager of NYP, urged political parties to train their agents on election procedures for future elections, to ensure that party agents are trained and understand their role in observing the voting and counting process.
She said the EWC deployed its observers to all the seven regional collation centers to observe the process at the constituency level and received reports from 52 out of 53 constituencies. All EWC observers and party agents were permitted access to observe the collation centers.
“In 8 constituencies, observers noted there were discrepancies identified in the polling station count forms that were corrected during the collation process. The collation process was not postponed or interrupted at any time in any collation centers observed by EWC, and all polling station results were included in the collation results at all centers observed. while party agents were present at nearly all collation centers. The collation results form was not signed by all party agents present in 5 cases and a copy was not given to all present party agents in 19 out of 52 constituencies”.
She added that during the voting, closing and counting process, the EWC reported some incidents that occurred at their assigned streams. “No incidents were serious or severely disrupted the election process as noted in the EWC”s mid-day statement. EWC observers reported four incidents related to disagreements between party and polling officials over the counting of the ballot tokens, which delayed the start of voting,” she added.