The two-day convergence held at Mexty Resort Hotel, is designed to enable these monitors to be regularly monitoring and reporting on threats to peaceful elections in The Gambia.
It would also enable them to collect and process real-time data on indicators of risk of electoral violence in the forthcoming December polls.
The project titled: ‘Electoral Violence Monitoring, Analysis and Mitigation (EMAM)’, is also aimed at contributing to the operationalisation of the online reporting tool ‘Gambia elects’- platform through capacity building of community monitors in early warning system monitoring and reporting.
Salama Njie, National Network Coordinator WANEP-The Gambia recalled that the last two decades of dictatorship had left the country polarised along political and ethnic lines with high inequality, saying the political and economic exclusion were at high tendencies of fuelling tensions.
“The Gambia, seemingly is politically divided with 18 registered political parties so far with 4 four independent presidential aspirants.’’ she said.
Despite the ongoing transitional justice processes and other reform advances established with the aim of strengthening efforts to ensure a peaceful transitional process, she acknowledged that there still remain challenges in terms of peace and security which in the long run can threaten the peaceful conduct of elections.
“The use of ethnic division as a tool for political power is visible in series of spiteful campaign messages by politicians since the 2016 elections to date. This if not resolved could serve as a catalyst for political instability,’’ she said.
While electoral contests remain a source of tensions and violence in The Gambia, Madam Njie reminded that the dynamics of the 2021 elections are likely to intensify these threats.
“Hence, for these inconsistencies to be prevented or mitigated requires the capacities of the CSOs to be enhanced to be able to take up peace-building initiatives and as well as monitor and observe the electoral process.”
“I am of the firm conviction that you will be able to carry out the task though herculean. For our long term monitors this is just refresher training as you are very familiar with the terrain having served WANEP for over decades now. For the incoming monitors, we welcome and believe that you will surely live up to expectation as you were carefully selected out many applicants. We owe it to our people to ensure that these forthcoming elections are free, fair and credible.”
Edward Kingston Jombla, Regional Conflict Analyst for WANEP said the training would give participants an opportunity to contribute to the peace and security in The Gambia to ensure that communities are safe.
“If the early warning signs are there and you do not report so that we can help to mitigate or prevent it, you don’t know it might affect you directly or indirectly. So, the joy of having you onboard – this activity - is that you are contributing to making your communities safe. That is important.’’ he said.