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The 12 May elections was the country’s first regional polls that gave a female candidate a lead, particularly in the country’s capital Banjul.

Voters at a polling station in Farato

A coalition of civil society organization has certified the May 12 chairperson and mayoral election of Gambia as ‘transparent’ and ‘credible’.

The regional election has given lead to the country’s main party United Democratic Party, winning 7 of the eight regions contested.

It was the country’s first regional elections that gave a female candidate a lead, particularly in the country’s capital Banjul.

“The CSO Coalition on Elections – the Gambia, having observed the 12 May 2018 Local Government Elections for Mayors and Chairpersons unequivocally certifies that the vote was free, fair and transparent and reflects the will of the electorates,” the CSO said on Monday.

“We found the election to be credible despite the various procedural challenges which in our opinion could not have affected the credibility of the election.”

The CSOs said the “election process was transparent, peaceful and orderly”.

“We observed incredible teamwork among polling staff. We also observed a marked improvement on the part of the polling staff to adhere to electoral procedures compared to the April 12 Councillors elections,” the CSOs added.

“However, low voter turnout continues to hugely beset elections in the Gambia and could threaten the legitimacy of representative democracy in the country. The failure on the part of parties, candidates and supporters to respect election laws has also been noticed.”

Meanwhile, the activists said their observers noticed the presence of candidate symbols and colours as well as some voters dressed in their party symbols and colours coming to polling stations to vote.

“The threats to peace and attempted interference with the vote by individuals especially in Banjul are causes for concern and requires urgent response by the IEC. On the other hand, the conduct and performance of security personnel on elections duty was commendable,” the CSOs said.

The CSO coalition on elections was spearheaded and coordinated by the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP).

With a membership of about 20 civil society organizations, the CSO coalition on elections seeks to participate and influence public policy through elections monitoring and observation.

A team of 30 Long Term Observers (community conflict monitors) were deployed nationwide to monitor the pre election context including the nomination process and campaigns.

And on polling day, 150 observers were deployed nationwide to all 8 Local Government Administrative areas to observe the opening, voting, closing, counting and collation processes.

“The CSO coalition’s assessment is based on the principles and standards for the conduct of democratic elections and the legal framework for the conduct of elections in the Gambia,” the group said in a statement.

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