Heads of Election Observation Missions in The Gambia shift to preventive diplomacy

Sheriff Mahmud Ismail in Banjul: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 December 2021:

Following the announcement last evening by the Independent Election Commission of The Gambia in which the incumbent  President Adama Barrow was declared winner; there have been concerns among observers and citizens alike that there could be post-election disturbances.

This concern was particularly heightened when an alliance of three, including the main opposition United Democratic Party, issued a press statement rejecting the results on the basis of what they described as widespread irregularities.

Acting on such concern, the former African Heads of States heading the various observer missions immediately shifted to preventive diplomacy. This is the swift behind -the -scenes engagement with key players with a view to peacefully mediate and resolve post-election disputes and ultimately averting outbreak of violence.

Post-election violence in Kenya in 2017 and in Cote D’Ivoire in 2011 resulted in considerable loss of lives and threat to national peace and cohesion. African leaders and international organizations have therefore put high premium in prevention rather than intervention.

Thus, the highly successful preventive diplomacy implemented in Zambia by Sierra Leone’s former president Ernest Bai Koroma under the auspices of the African Union has been deployed in The Gambia, following the post-election result announcement by the opposition last night.

Three former Heads of States – Olusengun Obasanjo, Ngalema Mothlanthe and Ernest Bai Koroma, representing the Commonwealth, the African  Union and ECOWAS respectively, have paid a courtesy call on the main opposition leader Ousainu Darboe at his residence in Banjul and appealed to him to rein in his supporters and to keep the peace.

The three former African presidents urged the Gambian veteran politician, who’s incidentally a lawyer, to use the legal alternative to resolve any disagreements he may have with the just concluded polls.

Darboe said he has been in opposition for 20 years without creating any social unrest nor does he have any intention of doing so now. If need be, he assured that he would use the courts.

In their individual preliminary statements released this morning, all the observer missions also specifically urged political parties to keep the peace, and commended the Gambian people for holding peaceful, free, transparent and credible election.


1 Comment

  1. Having elections grievances by the opposition parties in the recently concluded elections in the Gambia and its outcomes, and petitioning or questioning polling irregularities is all part and parcel of the election process. It is an inbuilt mechanism, where by aggrieved parties can take their cases to the supreme courts of the country, to consider the evidence and make a decision based on what is presented infront of them. The judiciary, the third arm of government, has the power to annual, order a recount, or in extreme cases, where the abused of the electoral process can be proven beyond reasonable doubt, order a re-run of such elections. This are extremely rare cases as we witnessed in the last Malawian presidential elections.

    As Mr Darboe the main challenger to president elect Adama Barrow, with his lawyer’s background, is not the firebrand, hell raiser type of politician you will expect him to be, rather someone who had promised to take his case to the courts. And he is right in pointing out that. And that is the way it should be done. Too many of our African youths have died post election violence, like Kenya, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Uganda,and more recently in Zambia, where fomer president Koroma was head of the African union Elections monitoring obverser team. We in Sierra Leone have our own sorry history of election voilence , sometimes fuelled by politicians that have no intention or interest to help create the economic opportunities for the young people in our country but nevertheless happy to use them as cannon fodder for their own selfish ends.

    I think the political classes and the youths of Gambia knows better than that. With a tiny population that you can fit in to two NLF stadiums, or three Saika Stevens Stadiums, its stand to reason common sense will prevail and all parties will respect the outcome of this election. There is enough trouble in the neighbourhood, with freelance Islamic jihadist looking for weak states, in tbe West African region to promote their wired ways of the interpretation of the Islamic holy book. And since Gambia has a boys scout army, they can ill afford to start trouble in their country. The Gambian people have voted, and their vote should be respected.

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