In line with the commitment of the Commonwealth to support democratic processes in member states, I visited The Gambia from 18 to 20 October 2011.
During my visit, I met senior government officials, including those from the National Assembly, and Judiciary, as well as the Independent Election Commission and the international community. I also met leaders of political parties and the civil society.
The meetings were candid and open. They afforded my delegation the opportunity to inform ourselves and receive views from a cross section of stakeholders on preparations for the Presidential Election scheduled to take place on 24 November 2011.
I am particularly grateful to the Honourable Speaker of Parliament for inviting me and my delegation to observe a session of the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly. In this session, Parliament was exercising one of its key functions, that of providing oversight of government activities.
We noted the outcome of the voter registration exercise, and the fact the Inter Party Committee has been revived and is holding meetings. Dialogue is a key ingredient of the democratic process that we must all support and promote. We encourage all parties to continue this process before, during and after the elections.
It was also recognised that the Independent Election Commission is gearing up for the election. Elections are complex and challenging undertakings that require the cooperation and support of all stakeholders. Political leadership at all levels must work together to achieve a credible process that enjoys the confidence of the people. The electorate on its part must perform its civic responsibility and engage in the democratic process to further strengthen democracy.
I am pleased to confirm, on behalf of Commonwealth Secretary-General, that we have accepted the invitation extended by the Independent Election Commission, to observe the election.
My wish for The Gambia is that both the process and outcome of the election meet Commonwealth values as well as international and regional electoral benchmarks to which the country has committed itself.
20 October 2011
Banjul, The Gambia
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