By Cherno Omar Bobb
Peace Ambassadors – The Gambia (PAG), a voluntary non-profit peace education and advocacy organisation has trained and deployed 53 observers and six coordinators across the country to observe the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) voter registration exercise.
Speaking Friday during a press conference held at their premises, PAG President Bubacarr Sambou, said the observers will send their observation reports in near real time via coded text messages using their mobile phones to the PAG National Information Center in Kanifing.
He added that the observation will be non-partisan to make the process more inclusive, transparent and accountable by enhancing participation, providing independent information on the quality of the process, and deterring potential problems. He added that observers will also report critical incidents if they occur using the ‘critical incident reporting’ form. He urged the IEC to closely monitor registration rates and put contingencies in place to extend the process, should additional time be needed to ensure that all Gambians who want to register have the opportunity to do so.
Sambou added that PAG will issue regular public updates to communicate observation findings based on direct observations from their observers. He further said that they will also issue a final report on the entire voter registration process after its conclusion aggregating the findings.
In addition to regular updates and a final report on the voter registration, Sambou said PAG will immediately share with the appropriate authorities any verified critical reports or any other relevant information so that actions would immediately be taken to address the issue(s).
“PAG regular public updates aim to inform all stakeholders about the conduct of the process and will make recommendations to improve the process as it is ongoing,” he said.
All PAG observers were trained on the IEC registration procedures, how to complete the observation checklist, and how to format and send in their observation reports via coded text messages using their mobile phones. On 27 May, PAG observers participated in a national simulation exercise where they practiced formulating and sending observation reports via coded text messages using their mobile phones.
Peace Ambassadors – The Gambia has since 2006 monitored every election held in the Gambia including presidential, parliamentary and local government elections.