In 2016, the young people of The Gambia changed the narrative by contributing immensely to vote out the former president, Yahya Jammeh, after he stayed in power for 22 years. This has paved the way for a wider democratic space in the country which includes proactive participation of young people in politics, keeping the government accountable and the formulation of youth led organizations advocating for peace, good governance and accountability.
With 64.1 percent of the population under the age of 25, young people play a vital role in building and maintaining peace in the country. This role will be even more critical come December 2019 with the “Three Years Jotna” movement. The “Three Years Jotna” is a movement consisting of Gambians at home and abroad who are planning to stage a peaceful protest in December against president Adama Barrow’s plans to stay in power contrary to the Coalition MOU agreement and campaign promises he made to the people of The Gambia in 2016.
The Chronicle engaged some youth activists to discuss the role of young people in maintaining peace in the Gambia ahead of the December protest.
Among those we spoke to was Lala Touray, an activist and a Women’s Affairs Officer at the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission. Lala believes young people play a very important role in maintaining peace and should not be underestimated. As a youth leader, she hopes that when people go out to protest and hold the president accountable, youth leaders and activists will add their voices to promote peace.
“I have seen young people taking the lead, including the National Youth Parliament. Youth activists coming up with initiatives and activities like peace dialogue, have different parties on one platform with different viewpoints and social media campaigns. All of these initiatives are youth driven efforts to make sure we prevent conflict. We took up the responsibility of maintaining peace at an early stage.”
Speaking to The Chronicle on behalf of the National Youth Council, Tala Camara told The Chronicle that she is confident that no violence will happen in December as the National Youth Council is working to engage young people. She continued to say that with the decentralized nature of the National Youth Council, they are reaching out to all the youths in the country to maintain peace through their regional committees. Camara urged young people to jealously guard the peace of The Gambia.
Talking about vandalization, Yusupha Jatta, an activist, tasked the people protesting in December to be mindful while exercising their constitutional right. He said other people might take that opportunity to vandalize the country and cause chaos. He therefore urged them to put in place all the necessary security measures needed while protesting.
At a recent peace conference initiated by the Africare Initiative, “Three Years Jotna” movement disclosed that unless President Adama Barrow calls for a national dialogue to discuss the decision of him staying in power until 2021, they will stage a peaceful protest in December 2019.