The neutral observation of elections plays a major role in the credibility, transparency and peace of an electoral process. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has no doubts about this, as stated in their Declaration at the conclusion of the Istanbul summit, in 1999, “observation of elections may play an important role in the strengthening of the confidence of people in the electoral process.”
In Senegal, national elections are observed by both national and international observers. The end goal of electoral observation is to verify that elections are organized according to national and international norms of objectivity, fairness, and the acceptance of results.
National electoral observers
Several Senegalese civil society organizations conduct electoral observation activities, among these organizations are: The Cultural Association for Self Promotion of Education and Social Activities (ACAPES), The Episcopal Justice and Peace Commission (CEJP), Non-state activists linked to ENDA-DIAPOL, and the Senegalese Network of Citizen Observers (RESOCIT) which includes the Civil Society Organizations for Elections (COSCE) and The Gorée Institute. The observation teams for these organizations mobilized over 5,000 national observers across the country during each of the two rounds of the presidential elections in February-March, 2012.
It should be noted that the request to be accredited as electoral observers, made on January 23, 2012 by The African Rally for Human Rights (RADDHO), to observe the February-March 2012 presidential elections was denied by the Senegalese authorities, specifically by Ministry of Elections. RADDHO had been the only Senegalese civil society organization to have observed the 2007 presidential elections. In fact the president of RADDHO was also the Coordinator of the June 23 Movement, which loudly contested the legitimacy of the candidacy of the outgoing president, Abdoulaye Wade. For that reason, the organization was accused by the ruling majority of in fact being active participants in the political opposition and not neutral observers.
Unprecedented number of teams of international observers
Given the electoral tensions surrounding the electoral process against the backdrop of the controversial candidacy of President Abdoulaye Wade, the presidential election of February-March 2012 beat all records in terms of regional and international observation. Approximately 1,450 observers were deployed by the African Union, The Economic Community of West African States, The Economic and Monetary Union of West African States, The Pan African Institute of Electoral Assistance, The Embassy of the United States, and The European Union.
Good collaboration between teams of observers
The various teams of electoral observers—national, regional, as well as international—generally develop fruitful partnership during national elections. The dynamics of cooperation between teams of observers went so far as the creation of a network of all national observers during the February-March 2012 presidential elections and during the July 1, 2012 legislative elections. For better coordination and to ensure coverage of the entire country during the legislative elections, RESOCIT (which includes the Gorée Institute and Civil Society Organizations for the Elections) joined other organizations during the presidential elections so that they could jointly observe the legislative elections. As a result, RESOCIT, and other organizations such as One World UK, The Platform of Non-State activists, ENDA-DIAPOL, The Episcopal Justice and Peace Commission (CEJP), ACAPES, Alliance for Migration, Leadership and Development (AMILD), and Handicap Fomeduc established a consortium in order to observe the 2012 legislative elections.
Useful links and documentary resources
- Links to official websites of organizations involved in election observation :
- Election observation reports :
- The ACE Electoral Knowledge Network, Election Observation Portal: http://aceproject.org/electoral-advice/dop?country=Senegal&organization=&year=&election=&mission=&report=&keywords=
- Union européenne Mission d’observation électorale, Rapport final élection présidentielle Sénégal 2012, 62 pages: http://eeas.europa.eu/eueom/pdf/missions/final-report-senegal-2012_fr.pdf
- Réseau sénégalais des observateurs citoyens (Resocit) Mission d’observation électorale, Rapport final élection présidentielle 2012, juin 2012: http://www.resocit.org/
- Plateforme des organisations de la société civile pour les élections Mission d’observation électorale, Rapport final élections législatives 2012, juillet 2012Mission d’experts électoraux de l’Union européenne Elections législatives du 1ier juillet 2012 Sénégal, Rapport Final 7 juin 19 juillet 2012, 63 pages: http://www.endadiapol.org/IMG/pdf/MFC7327_Senegal_Final_report_and_Annexes_FR.pdf