WANEP, Partners, Engage Stakeholders on Election Security

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By Nelson Manneh

WANEP-The Gambia in partnership with the National Elections Response Group (NERG) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), on Monday 19th December 2022, held a one day dialogue on election security to facilitate a reflection and sharing of lessons learned, and to identify best practices in election security.

The organisation is a legally registered non-profit and peacebuilding organization with a membership of 20 civil society organizations and works with government and non-government stakeholders and partners to actively promote peace, for conflict prevention.

During their convergence, participants to the dialogue meeting were taken through what happened during the 2021 presidential elections, the lessons learned during that election period and the possible way forward.

Salama Njie, WANNEP’s National Network Coordinator in the Gambia, said “we face numerous security challenges which continues to undermine efforts towards stability.” She said electoral disputes and election related violence are among key security challenges that threatens national peace and security.

“Many of the electoral processes that have taken place over the past five years, have given rise to tensions and threats of violence,” she said, and said the tense electoral processes experienced during the 2021 presidential elections, highlighted the importance of designing and implementing tools and measures to prevent electoral violence ahead of the Local Government Elections.

Ms. Njie said over the past years, the country’s political system has been greatly characterized by heightened political tensions and bickering which has left the country divided.  

Although she said the causes of these tensions and conflicts are multifaceted in nature, they could be linked to weak political structures, politicized state institutions, and the absence of dialogue spaces and infrastructure, for cultivating dialogue and national reconciliation.

“Politically motivated violence has been a recurring feature of elections in The Gambia. Politicians, opinion leaders and other interest groups on social media, continue to use rhetoric and ethnic sentiments that deepen divisiveness and tensions in the country,” she said.

Joseph Colley, the Vice Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), said elections in the Gambia will never be the same again. He said the IEC will continue to do its best to ensure elections in the Gambia are conducted free and fairly.

“We are not saying that we are perfect but looking at our system, we are doing well, as we have seen recently that some other countries come to the Gambia for election process tours,” he noted.