A total of 14 short-term election observers (STOs) from the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) on Monday departed to their respective areas of observation across the country ahead of the upcoming Parliamentary elections on April 6th.

The observers were seen off by the Chief Election Observer Miroslav Poche at a ceremony held at the Ocean Bay Hotel in Bakau.

The EU has established an election observation mission for the National Assembly elections following an invitation from the Independent Electoral Commission of The Gambia. The mission is led by Chief Observer Miroslav Poche, a Czech MEP and comprises of seven international election experts who are based in Banjul.

Meanwhile, prior to their deployment, the EU EOM’s Short-Term Observers received comprehensive briefings on a wide range of issues, including on the electoral process, political environment and media landscape. They also took part in a briefing organised by the IEC.

The Short-Term Observers (STOs) will primarily observe the proceedings on Election Day as well as the tabulation of the results.

“This team of short-term observers brings a wealth of diverse experience and reflects the interest of the European Union in the upcoming National Assembly elections,” said the Chief Observer, Mr. Miroslav Poche.

He added: “The EU strongly stands by the understanding that election observation is not a one-day event and that an informed assessment of an election cannot be made if observation is limited to election-day monitoring. Therefore, the EU has deployed its observation mission three weeks prior to Election Day and will remain in The Gambia to observe the post-election environment, including the adjudication of complaints, if any.”

It could be recalled that on 21 March, 2017, 14 long-term observers in multinational teams of two were deployed to all of the seven regions.

According to the EU, the mission’s scope of observation will be broadened as 14 STOs and a dozen of locally-recruited short-term observers from EU member states’ embassies accredited to The Gambia have joined the mission.

On 4 April, a ten-member delegation of the European Parliament (EP) will also be integrated into the mission. The EP delegation is headed by Ms. Jean Lambert, the MEP from the United Kingdom. Around Election Day, the EU EOM The Gambia will comprise up to 50 observers drawn from 27 EU member states, as well as Norway and Switzerland.

The mission operates in accordance with the “Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation,” adopted under the auspices of the United Nations in 2005. In addition, observers are bound by a Code of Conduct that assures strict neutrality and impartiality in the course of their duties.