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President Barrow with Ambassador Attila LAJOS

EU Ambassador: ‘We Need to Strengthen Gambian Democracy’

August 6, 2019

By Bakary Ceesay

 President Barrow with Ambassador Attila LAJOS

President Barrow with Ambassador Attila LAJOS

Atilla Lajos, the European Union ambassador to the Gambia, has stressed the need to strengthen Gambian democracy; saying that 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,” he said on Monday during the opening ceremony of two-day validation workshop on an electoral reforms Position Paper being developed by the Independent Electoral Commission at a local hotel in Kololi. The workshop was attended by chiefs, political parties, Constitutional Review Commission (CRC), National Council for Civic Education, chairpersons of local governments and other interest groups, funded by EU.

The Position Paper is to be submitted to the country’s Constitutional Review Commission. 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.

He called for key focus on transparency and accountability around everything that is being done in the country.

“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,” he said

Lajos called for an effective monitoring and reporting system over campaign financing of political parties in the country, adding that 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.

Alieu Mamor Njai, chairman of Independent Electoral Commission, IEC 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.

The IEC position paper is expected to be validated on Tuesday when it will be handed over to the CRC for consideration.

 

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