On 14 February 2012 Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma released the Final Report of the Commonwealth Expert Team, which observed the 24 November 2011 Presidential Election in The Gambia.
Mr Sharma said he was encouraged by the Team’s findings that the election was peaceful and very well organised by the Independent Electoral Commission of The Gambia (IEC). He however underscored that critical democratic reforms were needed to entrench Commonwealth values in The Gambia.
Echoing one of the main recommendations of the Team, the Secretary-General further said: “All stakeholders in the democratic process of The Gambia must be allowed to play a more active role in deepening democracy as part of their fundamental human rights: the opposition parties must be given the space to develop into a credible and visible alternative (and in this regard they too must live up to the people’s expectations); civil society and media organisations must be granted the space to empower citizens in a responsible and constructive manner; and the people of The Gambia must continue to engage actively in the wider democratic process, building on their participation in this election in order to further strengthen governance processes in the country.”
The Secretary-General again concurred with the Team’s opinion that the results of this election showed that the Government of The Gambia has the people’s mandate to pursue the necessary democratic reforms which will guarantee sustainable economic development.
“The Commonwealth stands ready to assist in such reforms,” concluded Mr Sharma.
Note to Editors:
The report was completed and signed by all members of the Commonwealth Expert Team prior to their departure from The Gambia. It was presented to the Commonwealth Secretary-General by the Chair of the Team, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, former Foreign Minister of Nigeria. It has subsequently been distributed to the Government of The Gambia, political parties, the IEC, and all other Commonwealth governments.