By Omar Bah
The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, is recommitted to continuing defending the peace and stability of the Gambia at all times.
Addressing a training of civil society organisations, academia and media on IRI/GIZ Bridge on voter education, information and election observation, the Ecowas ambassador’s political adviser, Claude Konde said the regional body is committed to ensuring Gambia’s continued peace and stability.
“I want to reiterate that Ecowas through its Peace and Security Architectural Operation and the Electoral Assistance Division is committed to promoting democratic governance, peace and security in The Gambia,” Konde said.
Ecowas, he added, being in the forefront of human capital development in West Africa, will continue to work in collaboration with other development partners to provide the necessary support in building the capacity of Gambia’s civil society actors to acquire skills, knowledge and experiences relevant for them to effectively implement their activities particularly those that relate to consolidation of democratic governance and promotion of national cohesion and stability.
“To this end, Ecowas has made it abundantly clear that it is ready to support The Gambia in the conduct of the presidential election in areas including training of election personnel, civic education, provision of election training materials and provision of covid-19 sanitary materials and equipment,” he said.
This, he added, will complement the efforts of Ecowas development partners such as the UN, EU, AU, British High Commission, US Embassy and GIZ who perceive the December election “as major determinant of the credibility of the country’s democratic process”.
He said the regional body has put up measures which include supporting training and sensitisation programs geared towards enlightening Gambian voters on the need for them to participate peacefully in the upcoming December Elections.
Turning to the training, Mr Konde said: “The training could not have come at a better time as there is a need to build the capacity of election stakeholders for their meaningful engagement and participation in the electoral and democratic process as the country prepares to conduct the presidential and legislative elections respectively.”
The training, he added, “is a noble one as it is in continuant with the priorities of the country’s National Development Plan and the Ecowas Vision 2050”.
“Mindful of other competing demands requiring all urgency and attention as Ecowas, we share the conviction that now is the time to invest in the people so they can be agents of political and social stability,” he noted.
The European Union’s project manager, Emya Braun said the EU has proposed to send election observer missions for the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections. She said the EU is committed to continue supporting West African electoral and democratic structures.
The International Republican Institute, IRI program manager, Binta Touray extolled the fruitful relationship the CSOs, academia and media continue to share with the IRI.
The GIZ technical adviser on electoral affairs, Yusuf Shamsudeen urged the participants to brainstorm and come up with strategies to implement an effective electoral sensitization program.
The five days training will provide the participants with fundamental knowledge, skills and tools to conduct voter information and education, election observation, sensitise civil society organisations on their roles and responsibilities in the 2021 elections and provide technical assistance to the Gambia CSO election coalition to plan and run successful voter information and education.