The Gambia

The Gambia had suffered from a multitude of authoritarian rulers, with the country only having two heads of state between independence in 1970 and 2017. This was changed when an opposition coalition defeated long-time authoritarian ruler Yahya Jammeh in the presidential election of 2016. This provided unprecedented opportunities for constructing democratic institutions in The Gambia that had not been seen before the country gained independence. It is in this context that IFES works with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and Gambian civil society to make the country’s electoral process more inclusive and transparent.

In 2017, The Gambia began moving on from 22 years under former President Yahya Jammeh’s leadership following the dramatic 2016 election which saw him lose power. In this context, it was necessary for stakeholders to review and reform the constitution and subsequent amendments with an aim of supporting participatory democratization in The Gambia. Additionally, there was an opening for robust capacity building within the IEC as the Commission moved from over two decades under Jammeh into a more open political environment. The necessary support ranged from strategic and operational planning to internal coordination and structures.

Working with IEC, IFES promotes a consultative and technically sound electoral reform process and builds IEC’s capacity to implement reforms and manage change, using IFES’ Executive Curriculum in Electoral Leadership (iEXCEL) for commissioners and Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) trainings for IEC staff. Building off such sessions, IFES also supported a strategic and crisis communication training with the IEC to bolster their capacity to respond in times of crisis. IFES also plans to provide technical assistance in development of the referendum process, as necessary, and is supporting long-term sustainable democratic institutional capacity building at the IEC by providing technical assistance during the development of the Strategic Plan 2020-24 and corresponding operational plans. More specifically, IFES supported the development of an operational plan and corresponding training manual related to the conduct of a critical voter registration exercise ahead of the December 2021 elections. The training manual was used to support capacity building of around 1,000 voter registration staff ahead of the summer 2021 voter registration exercise. IFES will continue to provide critical technical support to the IEC in the 2021 election period.

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