By Aisha Tamba
National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) in partnership with the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the Youth Parliament (NYP) recently held a daylong capacity building for West Coast Region (WCR) Local Authorities on electoral participation.
The training, which was organised under the theme creating awareness for responsible electoral participation was part of activities to prepare citizens with adequate information ahead of the looming local government elections.
Speaking at the training held at the Regional Education Directorate Two (2) in Brikama, Alhagie Sering Fye, chairman of NCCE, said the activity will cultivate an environment of democratic continuity in The Gambia that will enable all citizens to fully participate in governance process through the promotion of political and civic consciousness and rights and freedom of all citizens.
He described local government elections as an important activity, saying it enables citizens to elect their local representatives who will be in charge of local developments of their areas, such as the provision of basic services.
Mr Fye said it is the duty and responsibility of every citizen to take active role in democracy by voting as elections are the lifeblood of democracy.
The NCCE chairman noted that it is impossible to conceive democracy in a modern and complex organisation or society without a system of establishing choices of large bodies of citizens through voting procedures.
“Citizens must think sincerely about their choices before voting because in casting your vote, you are taking the responsibility of deciding who represents you in your ward and decides your fate in the local council,” he said.
Mr. Fye reminded contesting candidates to stay away from violence during and after election period to ensure that peace and stability prevails, “While campaigning you should maintain ethical and moral standards and give due decorum to candidates and political parties.”
He also called on people to avoid the use of abusive languages, provocative actions, intimidation, threats and physical confrontation at all times as they contravene the laws of The Gambia.
Meanwhile, the governor of West Coast Region, Bakary Sanyang said the violence that broke in the region following the December 2016 Presidential election should be a learning point for the people.
Representing the speaker of the National Youth Parliament, Baboucarr Nyang said they are committed to ensuring an inclusive participation of all in the forthcoming elections.
Elizabeth Lewis, deputy director of International Republican Institute for Africa said they have been working with government, CSOs and partners to promote democratic processes in the country.