Abuja - Nigeria — The ECOWAS Commission has informed the President of the Gambia about its decision not to dispatch an ECOWAS Observer Mission to the Presidential Election scheduled to take place in the country on 24 November 2011, because the preparations and political environment for the said election are adjudged by the Commission not to be conducive for the conduct of free, fair and transparent polls.
In keeping with the pertinent provisions of the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, the President of the Commission dispatched a fact-finding mission to the Gambia, during which the mission interacted with a wide range of stakeholders to assess the state of preparedness of the country for the election. The Commission has also been conducting a regular monitoring of the political situation and preparations in the lead-up to the election through the ECOWAS Early Warning System. Unfortunately, the reports of the fact-finding mission and the Early Warning System paint a picture of intimidation, an unacceptable level of control of the electronic media by the party in power, the lack of neutrality of state and para-statal institutions, and an opposition and electorate cowed by repression and intimidation.
In the circumstance, the ECOWAS Commission is of the view that the conditions prevailing in the country do not meet the minimum standards set under the Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance for the conduct of elections and has, therefore, decided to exercise the discretionary powers conferred on the Commission's President under the Protocol to stand down the ECOWAS Observer Mission. While regretting the decision forced upon it by the circumstances, the ECOWAS Commission will remain seized with the situation in the Gambia, and expresses its readiness to engage the Government and other stakeholders in the Gambian polity, with a view to accompanying them in their endeavour to create a level playing field for future elections.
His Excellency James Victo Gbeho President of the Commission