The Child Protection Alliance (CPA) is a child rights coalition which promotes respect for the rights of children, enhances capacity of frontline child protectors and professionals, engages in research and advocates for policy and legal reforms in the best interests of children. We appreciate the collaboration and partnership it has established with relevant government Ministries and Departments and their immense contribution to its work in the country.
The Child Protection Alliance, as an ardent advocate for the rights of children, is seriously perturbed by the current political situation in the country which has been precipitated by the stance of the outgoing President regarding the just concluded presidential elections.
On 1st December 2016, Gambians went to the polls to elect a President who would steer the ship of state for the next five years. On 2nd December, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) announced the winner as Mr. Adama Barrow. The congratulatory message of the outgoing President was aired on the national television and was viewed by Gambians at home and the world at large. This gesture by the outgoing President was hailed by many as a great mark of statesmanship and an exemplary show of courage. Gambians, both home and abroad, rejoiced at the dawn of another era.
Surprisingly, this joy was to be short-lived. On 9th December, the outgoing President, again on the national television and to the utter chagrin of all Gambians and the international community, announced his repudiation of the presidential elections results and subsequent unilateral nullification. Interestingly, during the political campaign the President touted our electoral system as fool proof, ‘unriggable’ and secure, and our electoral officers as men and women of high repute.
Children, the constituency whose rights we advocate for, form about half of the Gambian population. They did not take part in the election to determine the winner, being underage to vote. However, children, like adults, have a great stake in every matter that affects the body politik of the country. In fact, this country in essence belongs to children. Thus, any potential fallout from your refusal to recognise the elections and the President-elect will adversely affect the future we want to build for our children, their education, health, protection, development and survival. Indisputably children suffer the most when conflict, economic hardship and other troubles befall a country.
In the name of the children who you have always claimed to love and will die for, we urge you to recognise and honour the verdict of the presidential election and handover the rein of the State to the President-elect as constitutionally required. You owe it to our children to just do the right thing. Our children must be taught to know that power resides with the people and leaders are neither above the law nor more powerful than the people who elect them into office.
CPA’s position is that you gracefully hand-over power to President-elect Adama Barrow and avert any situation that would lead to a massive violation of the rights of children. This is the verdict of the parents of the children and it should be upheld, honoured and respected.
Long Live The Gambia
Njundu Drammeh, National Coordinator