IEC on election administration training
Monday, February 02, 2009
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the body responsible for conducting elections, in collaboration with the UNDP, on Monday, began a week-long training for its personnel, at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi.
The training which brought together political leaders, governors, religious leaders, chiefs and other government officials, is aimed at capacitating the participants on electoral process and enhance awareness on basic election administration.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the UNDP deputy regional representative, Limya Eltayeb, commended the IEC for the initiative, which she said demonstrates its commitment to effective management of credible, transparent, free and fair elections. She added that there is universal consensus that democracy requires the existence of effective institutions at all levels and in particular, an independent electoral body that is credible and enjoys support from all stakeholders.
"It is for this reason that the UNDP, as part of its country programme action plan, agreed with the government of The Gambia on a number of activities to strengthen the institutional capacities of the IEC," she stated. She described their support to the electoral body as crucial in strengthening and sustaining the democratic spirit in The Gambia.
For his part, the chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, Mustapha L Carayol, described the day as one of great importance in the electoral process of The Gambia, adding that the training is timely and will go a long way in giving stakeholders the required knowledge and skills. Carayol said elections are universally recognised to form a very important role in safeguarding the desired peaceful environment of any nation.
According to the IEC chairman, election results may be rigged to predetermine who will win or lose, and election process may be disrupted, but he stated that such cases will never happen in The Gambia.
He appealed to the participants to take the training seriously, so as to acquire the knowledge for which they had gathered. He thanked the government for fulfilling its financial obligation to the commission.
In her keynote address, the speaker of the National Assembly, Honourable Fatoumatta Jahumpa-Ceesay, said free and fair elections imply electoral processes and systems that are conducted openly and transparently, giving opportunities to parties and candidates to campaign and spread their messages to others without fair or reprisal. She said that the training is crucial to those who are key in the electoral processes to better understand those electoral laws in order to effectively carry out their duties. She also cited the importance of voter education as crucial to ensure that people fully understand their rights and responsibilities as citizens.
She therefore urged participants to take the training seriously and expressed hope that they will apply the knowledge gained to further strengthen the already cherished electoral system in The Gambia. Speaker Jahumpa-Ceesay thanked the IEC for conducting such a timely training and also for their adherence to regular submission of their annual reports to the National Assembly.
Author: by Alieu Ceesay