IEC chairman says reforms necessary to ensure inclusiveness in Gambian politics

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By Olimatou Coker

The chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission has said electoral reforms are necessary to promote inclusiveness in Gambia’s political landscape.

Alieu Momarr Njai made these remarks yesterday during a national dialogue with political parties, and the national executive committee on the increased inclusion of young people in political party leadership positions organized by National Council for Civic Education in collaboration with the UNFPA and supported by the UN peacebuilding fund.

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The theme of the dialogue focuses on “promoting meaningful involvement and participation of youth in politics and party structure”.

The overall objective of the dialogue is to create a platform for discussion, identify challenges and commit to enhancing the inclusion of youth, including those with disabilities in leadership positions and decision-making structures of political parties ahead of the biennial political congress of political parties and the local government election.

In his address, Chairman Njai said reforms are very much necessary to effectively handle current and emerging issues in what may hamper inclusiveness in the Gambia’s political landscape.

He added that the IEC has the issue of electoral reforms high on its agenda but he emphaisized that political parties are the key actors in electoral democracy and it is important they promote youth participation in national politics.

Njai also said selecting youthful candidates is key to the drive. “I am sure it will be most welcomed if political parties can select at least 40% to 50% of youths as candidates”, he opined.

Alh Sering Faye, chairman of the NCCE, said political leaders must foster cross-generational and cross-sectoral collaboration, provide access to decision-making and give young people the tools they need to meaningfully participate in political and public affairs at all levels.

“So, young people really deserve seats at the decision-making table. We are hoping that your parties will initiate the procedure to promote young people’s political engagement as a catalyst for constructive change,” he said

Ndeye Rose Sarr, the UNFPA’s Country Representative, said young people constitute a larger number of seats at the local government level and are often involved in their communities and grassroot organizations and therefore called for youth representation in political bodies because their value as an influential voting bloc must be recognized.