Statement by The Gambia National Youth Council

Monday, December 19, 2016

On December 1st 2016, Gambian people went to polls to elect their President.  The election results were accepted by all and sundry as free, fair and transparent. This did not only raise our hopes as Gambians especially the youth who forms the majority of the population but earn us great respect and reputation among our compatriots in the sub region and the world.

Regrettably, on December 9th, the incumbent announced during a televised speech that he has rescinded his acceptance decision, rejected the election in its entirety and described the outcome null and void.  Clearly, this unilateral action is a recipe for violence putting the lives of young people at risk. Consequently, we find it as unfortunate and unnecessary since there were laid down constitutional processes and procedures required for participating political parties in an election to challenge the validity of the result.

The announcement does not only raise anxiety and panic among the populace but also brought disrepute to the country and threatening the peace and harmony that characterize the entire electioneering process of 2016 election process.

The Gambia National Youth Council which was established by an Act of Parliament in 2000, is mandated to coordinate and supervise youth activities in The Gambia. The council is composed of seven (7) regional committees, forty two (42) district youth committees, and currently has twenty six registered national youth organisations and one hundred and fifteen (115) community based youth groups.

Based on the above, the council hereby condemns this position as taken by President Jammeh in the strongest possible terms and hereby categorically calls on him to respect the will of The Gambian people, honor the constitution of The Gambia that he swore to defend, and transfer power to the president-elect Mr Adama Barrow, through a smooth and peaceful transition as provided for by the Constitution. Certainly, The Gambia is bigger than any party or individual interest and this shall not be compromised.

We also call on the military, especially the youths in uniform, to respect the will of the people and the Constitution they swore to protect. Your role in this transition period is critical in ensuring that the admirable integrity and respect for the armed and security forces is preserved for posterity.

We equally call on young people of The Gambia to maintain peace and support the peaceful transition process and refuse to be cajoled, encouraged or enticed into any form of violence. We sincerely acknowledge the ongoing efforts of national, regional and international organisations in finding diplomatic solution to the current impasse.

By all indications and through scanning of general public mode and sentiments, our beloved country, The Gambia, is on the precipice of anarchy and violent conflict that can and should be averted by all means necessary. Any keen observer will not be oblivious to signs of anxiety and uncertainty eating into our collective and cohesive social fabric.

We are profoundly worried that our socio-cultural and religious equilibrium nurtured for centuries that made The Gambia known for its peacefulness, tolerance to diversity and able to have its people co-exist and live in harmony, is threatened by ethnocentric inflammatory connotations and dishonesty channeled through privileged positions of authority.

In any situation of violent conflict and/or war, it is the children, the young and women, more than any sector, who bear the highest cost. Being a youthful country, with over 60% of the population under the age of 35 years, it is compelling to conclude that the young people of this country will suffer the severest in the unfortunate scenario of a political crisis degenerating to violence. It is a common saying that: ‘older men declare war but it is the youth who must fight and die’.

Driven by this fear and conscious of our mandate under the laws of The Gambia, we the young people of The Gambia, through our constituted body, The Gambia National Youth Council (NYC), unequivocally demand that the leadership of the country respects the majority opinion of the populace as reflected in the just concluded elections held in the country.

The general public is further informed that The Gambia National Youth Council remains resolute in our quest to ensure the will of the majority of the people prevails which has been manifested during the December 1st Presidential election.

Signatures:

Chairperson

The Gambia National Youth Council