‘Democracy only works if everyone is allowed to participate’

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Head of Liaison Office of the Federal Republic of Germany in The Gambia has underscored that democracy can only work if everyone is allowed to participate.

Anita Martin was speaking on Monday at the opening of a two-day capacity building training for 50 young politicians from all political parties in the country. The two-day training was organized by the National Youth Council (NAC) of The Gambia and funded by Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in which participants interacted and engaged with experts on a variety of political ideas aimed at equipping them to become better political leaders.

She maintained that having everyone participate to sustain democracy is difficult and it takes a long time. “But this is the best way to find sustainable solutions in the long run”.

Martin suggested that young people should be offered opportunity to be involved in responsible and challenging actions that meet genuine needs.

“They should have the opportunity to participate in planning and decision-making to shape their own future. Democracy does not fall from heaven; it has to be brought about by individuals, groups and social actors who fight for it,” Ms. Martin said.

She also called on young people to instrumental in contributing to the creation of a coordinated youth front to ensure that youth are visibly involved in the building and construction of democracy during and after the transition.

 “Dialogue, trust and collaboration are what underpin democracy and meaningful democracy requires meaningful participation of youth.”

Adama Ngum-Njie, Permanent Secretary at the Minister of Youth and Sports said the event was not only important to young people, but significant to even ‘our’ political development and democratization processes.

The initiative, she went on, will support the improvement of the potential in young people and swiftly direct them towards addressing the socio-economic, political and development needs of the country.

Mrs. Ngum-Njie further said that the training would also improve the participants’ leadership and communication skills to actively and fully engage in activities of political parties through nurturing excellent leadership qualities, political communication strategies as well as conflict resolution and management skills.

“It will also improve participants’ understanding of political theories and ideologies, roles and functions of political parties in national development, public policy making and political communication to promote democracy, involvement and representation of youth in politics and encouragement of the spirit of multi-party system in your various parties and in the country at large.”

Resident representative of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Thomas Volk said in every democracy it is important to have a strong press, a strong civil society, minority right quarantine and a strong opposition that is accepted in order to shape democracy and make it strong.

The Gambia, he pointed out, has all possibilities to be a role model on the African continent with its new found democracy. He called on young people to participate, ask for and take their rights in a peaceful manner, with self-confident.

He, however, called on them to do away with hate speeches and fight for the political and economic development of The Gambia.

Dembo Kambi, National Youth Council chairperson described the training as important, saying participants were representing constituencies in which they act and make decisions on behalf of young people.

He observed that a growing number of young people are becoming interested in politics, saying they now want to ensure that youth do not only get into politics to be used as tools by politicians, but to prepare their minds to become young leaders who will be able to move the country to the peoples’ desired level.

“We should not allow politicians to divide us and we should not allow our ethnicities to divide us. In The Gambia, we should all have one identity and one tribe (The Gambia).” 

Author: Fatou O. Barrow
Source: Picture: Anita Martin is Federal Republic of Germany head of Liaison Office in The Gambia