By Cherno Omar Bobb
The chairman of the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) Sering Fye, has said that after nearly five years since the ousting of the dictatorial regime, the Gambia is still at the crossroads.
Mr. Fye made these remarks last Wednesday at Metzy Hotel during a national interface dialogue between security forces, youth and relevant stakeholders organised by the NCCE and funded by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) under the Peace Building Fund Project.
The theme for the day-long gathering was “Building cordial relation among stakeholders to prevent national security in the 2021 election and beyond.”
The veteran broadcaster said our nascent democracy will face a serious litmus test on December 4th, when the country votes in the presidential election. He therefore said it will be a pivotal moment to sustain the momentous achievements of 2016 and cement the democratic trajectory of the country.
Musa Balajo, deputizing for the Resident Representative of the ECOWAS permanent mission in the Gambia said the dialogue between the security forces, the youths and stakeholders will go a long way to cementing good relationship and foster peace, considering the forthcoming elections. He highlighted that pre- and post-election periods can be very challenging as events are unfolding which will require tactful handling of matters arising from that period.
Balajo expressed ECOWAS’s commitment to partnering with stakeholders to support the process for free, fair and peaceful democratic elections to be held in the Gambia come December 2021.
Kunle Adeniyi, UNFPA Country Representative said the dialogue could not have come at a better time as the people of the Gambia were preparing for the 2021 presidential elections. He said the conflict and development analysis report of the Gambia verified the ‘young are the single most important demographic factor of the country in terms of their numbers and ability to author and influence the transition in stabilizing or destabilizing ways with 60% of the population under the age of 25.
Alieu Momarr Njai, chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said dialogue, consultation, cooperation and collaboration with each other on national issues in the conduct of elections will only result to better understanding and synergy in tackling and resolving potential threats and to collectively prevent problems from happening that could otherwise be undesirable. He expressed the IEC’s commitment to conducting an all-inclusive and peaceful electoral activities for the year 2021 and called on all stakeholders to support the election process.
Mamadi Saidykhan, deputizing for the Minister of Interior, said elections worldwide are critical and highly sensitive and thus require a high degree of state caution for preparedness, with all stakeholders. He added that maintaining law and order are requirements for peace and security in the electoral process, which is therefore a national obligation by everyone.
Halifa Sallah, co-chair of the Inter Party Committee (IPC) said the education that the people should receive is to know that they are the only majority constituent of the country. He said the engagement is to interrogate the past and present in order to shape the future. Sallah said in the 2016 elections, it was the Gambian people who saved themselves and should be proud of themselves for that.
“The 2016 election cannot be compared to the one in 2021. Those who are afraid to face their past, future or present cannot be the architects of their own destiny. This country cannot afford Gambians fighting each other because we will lose our country in doing so,” he said.