The European Union Election Observation Mission chief to The Gambia arrived in the country on Monday, March 20th, ahead of the upcoming Parliamentary elections slated for April 6th.

Mr. Miroslav Poche, a member of the European Parliament from the Czech Republic, was appointed by Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission as chief of the EU Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to The Gambia.

The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) for the forthcoming parliamentary elections in The Gambia started its deployment, following an invitation from the Independent Electoral Commission of The Gambia.

This will be the first time when the European Union deploys a fully-fledged election observation mission to The Gambia, reflecting the EU’s commitment to supporting The Gambia’s democratic transition and the level of international interest in it,” stressed the Chief Observer, Mr. Miroslav Poche.

A statement from the EU Banjul Office said a core team of six experts arrived in The Gambia on 13 March and will stay in the country until completion of the election process.

“On 20 March, the core team will be joined by 14 long term observers (LTOs) who will be deployed in multinational teams of two throughout the country. To broaden the scope of observation, close to the Election Day the mission will deploy 14 short-term observers who will primarily follow proceeding on Election Day as well as tabulation of the results. A delegation of seven members of the European Parliament will be also integrated into the mission on a date close to Election Day, as will locally-recruited short-term observers from EU member states’ embassies accredited to The Gambia. Around Election Day, the mission will comprise up to 50 observers drawn from EU member states, as well as Canada, Norway and Switzerland” according to the EU.

The ultimate task of an observation mission is to assess compliance of those elections with domestic legislation as well as regional commitments and international standards for democratic elections agreed by The Gambia.

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.

According to the EU, the EOM will present its statement of preliminary findings and conclusions in a press conference within 48 hours after the election day.

“At a later stage, the mission will issue a comprehensive final report that will also contain recommendations offered for consideration by the authorities, political parties and civil society, in further support of their efforts to conduct elections in line with national legislation and international standards that underpin democratic elections” the EU concluded.

Bio of Mr Poche

Prior to his election to the European Parliament, Mr. Poche had an extensive political career in the Czech Republic.

He has previously participated in delegations of the European Parliament observing general elections in Ukraine and Jordan, both sensitive political climates at the time of their elections. He worked in election-related posts in OSCE missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo, gaining first-hand experience and knowledge of the election observation process.

He served as an elected member the Prague City Assembly from 2002 to 2014, including as a Chair of the city’s foreign relations committee, committee on finance and committee on development among others. He also served as an adviser to the Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs (2009-2010), playing a key role in developing the country’s long-standing foreign policy documents. Mr. Poche has also worked for the office of the Special Representative of the UN for Human Rights in the Former Yugoslavia.