The Gambia: Pre-Election Assessment 1996, Final Report
Despite the apparent promise that a newly ratified constitution and scheduled presidential and parliamentary elections hold for a return to constitutional multi-party democracy in The Gambia, the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) Assessment Team finds little reason for optimism. The Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) has carefully crafted a transitional program to fulfill its expressed desire to remain in power. Although voters will have a choice of four candidates during the September 26th presidential election, a number of factors discussed in this IFES report seriously call into question the competitive nature of that election.
There is cause for some optimism in regards to the parliamentary elections planned for December 11th. Should the new President of the Second Republic of The Gambia quickly demonstrate a clear commitment to constitutional democracy by taking the oath of office and thereby invoking the new Constitution, a critical turning-point in the transitional process will have been reached. Other steps will be also be necessary in order to provide for a sufficiently open and competitive electoral process. For example, the repeal of the various AFPRC decrees which severely restrict the human and political rights of the Gambian people, and the release of all political detainees, should be considered minimum pre-conditions.
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