Abuja, Nigeria, October 27, 2021. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in collaboration with the African Union, through its African Governance Architecture (AGA), have launched the National Peace Campaign and Dialogue on Democratic Reforms and Youth Participation in the Political Processes in The Gambia.
The Campaign aims to create an open and collaborative space for the youth to be part of the political processes as well as ongoing reforms and peace processes in The Gambia. It is also part of preventive diplomacy activities in support of a peaceful presidential and legislative elections scheduled for 4th December 2021 and 2022 respectively in that country.
The campaign is focusing among others on strategic issues meant to rally Increased awareness of the youth on the ongoing reforms, enhancing the understanding of the role of the youth in the democratic governance processes as well as the establishment of networking avenues for the youth, national and regional stakeholders and the institutionalisation of the concept of ambassadors for peace among the Gambian youth in order to rally for a more inclusive, democratic and credible electoral process.
At the launch, the president of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou said: “In the past, the Youth have been used as tools and being manipulated by conflict entrepreneurs to achieve their selfish goals. Today,it is gratifying to note that the youth are now engaged in decision-making processes that affect their lives. Remember that your destiny lies in your hands. So make good use of the opportunity. As ECOWAS, we share the conviction that now is the time to invest in the people, particularly the youth which is the peoples-centred investment for development, so that they can become agents of political and social stability.”
His statement which was delivered by the ECOWAS Resident Representative Mrs. Vabah Gayflor, lauded the initiative as one that is in consonance with the priorities of the country’s National Development Plan, the AU Agenda 2063, and the ECOWAS Vision 2050.
The Acting Head of the AGA-APSA Secretariat, Ambassador Salah Hammad, spoke in similar vein maintaining that: “The Gambia goes through Elections this year, this particular call for national dialogue and launch of a peace campaign is ideal. This dialogue and campaign will bring this youthful nation to embrace its differences, become one and support this important national exercise as a testament of the growing democratic space.”
He emphasised the need for an increased investment on youth and their meaningful engagement as leaders for peace and partners for change.
The campaign and dialogue is an outcome of the multi-stakeholder assessment mission that was led by AGA and held in partnership with ECOWAS, Democracy Elections Assistance Unit (DEAU) and African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), in August 2019. The mission’s findings elaborated on the commendable efforts the government was doing but also identified glaring gaps including the need to be addressed to support the meaningful engagement of the youth in electoral and political processes.
These findings paved the way for strategic engagement and support which was enumerated on the Joint Action of AGA –ECOWAS, DEAU with the Ministry of Youth and Sports. The action plan was meant to also identify resources, experiences and capacity that can potentially address impediments for youth to exercise their full potential.