By Olimatou Coker
Ansumana Ceesay, senior program officer, NCCE, said their gathering is meant to call for increased inclusion of young people in politics and maintaining peace in all political engagements.
Ceesay made these remarks recently during a conclusion of a 6-day nationwide regional dialogue with political parties on the inclusion of young people in political party leadership.
The engagement is said to help in building capacities of stakeholders on the concepts and principles of democracy, democratic governance, fundamental rights, political tolerance, and respect for the rule of law.
The activity involves six dialogue sessions in six (6) administrative regions namely North Bank Region (NBR), Central River Region (CRR), Upper River Region (URR), Lower River Region (LRR), West Coast Region (WCR) & Kanifing Municipality. One dialogue session was conducted in each of the selected regions. About 270 participants from the regional parties representatives, institutions/organisations, young people, and Persons with Disabilities, across the selected regions, will take part in the dialogue sessions.
The theme focuses on “promoting meaningful involvement and participation of youths in politics and party structures” which is aimed at creating a platform for dialogue, identifying challenges, and making a commitment to enhancing the inclusion of youths – including those with disabilities – in leadership positions and decision making structures of political parties.
The dialogue is supported by the peacebuilding fund (PBF) through UNFPA for the support given to the NCCE to be able to facilitate
“Since in a democracy every citizen has a right to freely associate and openly his view, differences are naturally likely to occur, but the right thing to do when such differences occur is to dialogue and compromise. Tolerance and respect for the rule of law are very critical in the promotion of democracy, peaceful coexistence, and social cohesion. Therefore, I would like to encourage all of us to learn to tolerate and respect each other when associating and sharing our views and opinions in public discourse.”
He also encourages all to seriously look at youth representatives as there is no future for any political party and by extension the country, if more than half of the population is reduced to mere onlookers. “Inclusivity and fair representations are human rights and much in line with our legal instruments and policies and hence an obligation on all and sundry,” he said.
Also speaking, Seedia B. Sillah, Regional electoral officer, said it is essential that young people are engaged in formal political processes and have a say in formulating today’s and tomorrow’s politics.
“For young people to be adequately represented in political institutions, processes, and decision-making, and in particular in elections, they must know their rights and be given the necessary knowledge and capacity to participate in a meaningful way at all levels.
When there are obstacles to participating in formal, institutionalized political processes, young people can rapidly feel disempowered.”
He added that the problem becomes circular as politicians may lose interest in responding to the aspirations of young people if they cannot win their votes. “This in turn leads to young people being increasingly excluded from taking part in decision-making, or in debates about key socioeconomic and political discussions.”