What we did: We organized participatory political dialogues and consultative processes with all political party leaders, with civil society and faith-based groups, traditional authorities and the media to develop and monitor a Presidential Code of Conduct for the presidential elections in the Gambia in 2021.

What we achieved: By recognizing and considering risks in electoral processes, political parties, civil society and media organizations developed and implemented a Code of Conduct for the presidential elections in the Gambia in 2021.

Who we did it with: The United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), Gambian political party leaders, civil society organizations; faith-based groups, traditional authorities and media organizations.

Grant/project name: Support to Peaceful Elections in the Gambia

Donor: UK’s FCDO 

Award period: 1 September 2021 to 31 March 2022

Boundary partners: Political parties, civil society organizations, electoral management bodies

 

Last year was a defining one for the Gambia. Political tensions were high in a stiffly contested first presidential election after the fall of President Yahya Jammeh’s dictatorial regime. Eighteen political parties and four independent candidates expressed interest in running; voters were generally distrustful and divided among ethnic lines. 

Against this backdrop, local and international actors sought to ensure that the elections were peaceful. International IDEA chose to accompany the six candidates that made it to the polls to call for peace and dissuade supporters from violence. International IDEA’s project, Support to Peaceful Elections in the Gambia, called on political party leaders to ‘consider risks of violence and support/implement practices which foster inclusiveness and fairness in electoral processes’.

Through participatory political dialogues and consultative processes involving all political party leaders, civil society and faith-based groups, traditional authorities and the media, International IDEA worked with a team that facilitated development, implementation and monitoring of a Presidential Code of Conduct.  

The team included Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, a regional leader (Former President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and former Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS)); Chair of the Christian Council, Bishop James Allen Yaw Odico; President of the Supreme Islamic Council, Sheikh Essa Darboe; Hon. Elizabeth F. Y. Renner, former Speaker of Parliament; and Ousman Yabo, former civil society leader. The Code of Conduct was agreed on and signed by the six presidential candidates on 11 November 2021. This was the pinnacle of political mediation in the Gambia.

As competitive campaigns began, the anticipated fears of violence and turmoil heightened as some political party leaders and members exercised conduct that was geared to destroying the peace.

After the election, some presidential candidates accepted the outcome and congratulated the winner, President Adama Barrow, citizens and stakeholders for a peaceful electoral process. The Code of Conduct was seen as important in easing the tensions among the candidates and supporters, which immensely contributed to a peaceful election to remember in the Gambia.