By Ndey Sowe
As the Gambia prepares to enter another election cycle, preparations and trainings for election observation is important for accountability and transparency, especially for the youth who make up half of the country’s population, thus, the African Union (AU) and the Youth Ministry has concluded a trainer’s training on citizen election observation.
The AU’s Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and Sport and the National Youth Council, on Friday, November 5, concluded a five-day trainers’ training on citizen election observation.
Forty young people from various regional youth committees and national youth organizations benefited from the training conducted by international experts.
The training was meant to equip participants with requisite knowledge to become international trainers on election observation, as well provide them with the opportunity to observe elections within the sub-region.
Representing the African Union Commission, Robert Gerenge, the principal adviser to election management bodies, complimented the Government for the partnership to train Gambians on election observation.
“We know that investing in young people has long lasting and long-term evidence and this five day training we have partnered with Government of the Gambia, will provide the much needed capacity building for young people during this election period,” Robert stated; adding that they are honoured and privileged with the right facilitators from Zimbabwe and Ghana, to impart such knowledge on the trainees who will one day train other young people beyond the Gambia.
Sannaba Jawla, speaking on behalf of all the participants, said the knowledge gained from the training will be implemented appropriately.
“Just to assure you that such a training will not going to be a waste with the caliber of young people who are gathered here and the institutions they represent, and citizen election observation will continue to be a platform we will use to transmit the information to other parts of the world, when we are called,” Jawla said; saying the greatest investment that any institution or person can do, is to invest in education and more so on the advancement of youth and women.
In his closing remarks, the Minister of Youth and Sport, Bakary Y. Badjie, expressed gratitude for the timely conduct of the training, adding it could not have come at a better time, when the Gambia is approaching presidential elections barely three weeks from now.
He extended appreciation to the AU’s Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security for the training of young people on such a crucial and timely course.
Minister Badjie used the opportunity to urge the trainees to utilize the knowledge gained especially during the upcoming electoral cycle, and assured young people of Government’s commitment to free and fair elections.
During the training, participants were taken through the political and historical context of presidential elections in the Gambia; normative framework (benchmarks for credible elections) and constitutional and legal framework for the elections, as well as highlights of key electoral processes and election preparedness.