Atilla Lajos, the European Union ambassador to the Gambia, has called for an effective monitoring and reporting system over campaign financing of political parties in the country.
Lajos said effective monitoring over campaign financing would help in ensuring a level playing field for contestants for public office and enable voters to form an accurate picture of candidates’ financial standing.
“As we work towards rebuilding the trust between Gambians and the State, a key focus should be put on transparency and accountability around everything that is being done,” said the EU diplomat.
Lajos made the statement on Monday at an EU-funded two-day validation workshop on an electoral reforms Position Paper being developed by the Independent Electoral Commission at Paradise Suite Hotel.
The Position Paper is to be submitted to the country’s Constitutional Review Commission. The workshop was attended by chiefs, political parties, CRC, National Council for Civic Education, chairpersons of local governments and other interest groups.
Among the critical issues contain in the Position Paper are the issues of nominations, introduction of ballot paper, upper and lower age limits for contesting candidates for political office, academic qualification and declaration of assets.
“We need to strengthen Gambian democracy; the stakes are too high to not reform the system before the next elections. The Mission (EU election observer to Gambia) underlines the importance of continuous and extensive voter and civic education, as well as urging the establishment of an accurate voter register and the provision of timely opportunities for voter registration,” said Lajos.
The IEC position paper is expected to be validated on Tuesday when it will be handed over to the CRC for consideration.
The IEC Chairman, Alieu Mamor Njai, said the content of their Position Paper is informed by series of meetings with stakeholders in the electoral process they have conducted in the past few months.
“Due to the gaps in the existing electoral laws particularly the Electoral Act, the need for electoral reforms is indeed imperative. The next cycle of electoral activities cannot be efficiently conducted without the appropriate reforms in electoral laws,” said Njie.