By Kebba Jeffang
The European Union Chief Observer on Monday, April 03, bade farewell to 14 short-term observers who are deployed across the country to observe the upcoming National Assembly Election slated for April 6.
These short-term observers are added to the previous 14 long-term observers who were deployed earlier in March.
In a press release, Miroslav Poche said “the EU has established an election observation mission for the National Assembly elections following an invitation from the Independent Electoral Commission of the Gambia. This team of short-term observers brings a wealth of diverse experience and reflects the interest of the European Union in the upcoming National Assembly elections,” said Poche.
He said the EU strongly stands by the understanding that election observation is not a one day event and that an informed assessment of an election cannot be made if observation is limited to election-day monitoring,” said Poche.
The Czech national who is a Member of European Parliament (MEP) added that the EU has earlier deployed 14 long term observers three weeks prior to election-day and they will remain in the country to observe the post-election environment including the adjudication of complaints if any.
According to him, earlier 14 observers were divided among the seven regions with each region having two observers. He said the new deployment of short-term observers which is also 14 observers will reinforce the previous 14 meaning each region will now have 4 observers.
“On 4 April, a ten-member delegation of the European Parliament will also be integrated into the mission. The EP delegation is headed by Ms. Jean Lambert, the MEP from the United Kingdom. Around election day the EU EOM the Gambia will comprise up to 50 observers drawn from 27 EU member states as well as Norway and Switzerland,” said Chief Observer.
Poche said the mission operates in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation adopted under the auspices of the United Nations in 2005.
Meanwhile, this is the first time for the European Union to deploy its full fledge Election Observation Mission to The Gambia as their relationship with the former president Jammeh was never good. It came as part of a series of agreements the new government has made with EU Commissioner Mimica during his visit to The Gambia in February.