By Landing Ceesay
Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Alieu Momar Njai, has encouraged political parties to select youth candidates for the 2023 Local Government Elections.
“Political parties are key actors in electoral democracy. It is important to note that all political parties have an important role to play, when it comes to the promotion of youth participation in national politics. Selecting youthful candidates is key towards this drive. I am sure it will be most welcome, if political parties can select at least 40% to 50% of youth as candidates,” he said.
The IEC Chairman said the youth are indeed a force to reckon with, considering their numbers and their potential.
He said the need to provide the youth with greater opportunity in politics and in structures of all political parties cannot be over emphasised.
Mr. Njai said the inclusion of the under-represented sectors of Gambian society should be holistically considered by all registered political parties, such as the youth, women and people with disabilities need to be taken on board in national politics and also in political party structures.
“These groups do not have to be relegated to the fringes but they need to be given higher consideration at decision making levels and at party leadership positions. I have no doubt in my mind that once given such opportunities, youth can deliver as expected. Youth don’t have to wait for ages or decades to assume leadership positions. They can be given the opportunity now; and I am sure they can excel,” he said.
The IEC Boss further stated that electoral reforms are very much necessary to effectively handle current and emerging issues in what may hamper inclusiveness in the Gambia’s political landscape.
Mr. Njie said his institution has the issue of electoral reform high on its agenda, and has started activities leading to the 2023 Local Government Elections.
“Elections for Councillors will be held on 15th April 2023, and Election for Chairpersons/ Mayors will be held on 20th May 2023. I am sure this will provide the space for more participation of youths in electoral process,” he said.
Alieu Momarr Njai said they would endeavour to partner with youth groups and associations to promote more participation in the upcoming Local Government Elections.
He made these remarks at the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) National Dialogues with political parties’ national executive committees on the increased inclusion of young people in political party leadership positions, ahead of their biennial congresses and the 2023 Local Government Elections.
The event took place on Thursday at a local hotel in Senegambia.