Successful transfer of power in the Gambia must lead to transformation of the country, this is the new challenge before the new President Barrow.
The peaceful transfer of power in the Gambia has finally been resolvSed to a reasonable extent. Though this has not just happened, it has consumed lots of diplomatic efforts, military expediency, political negotiations, and commitment of the Gambian people.
The Gambian people have shown lots of doggedness by remaining calm, showing understanding, and maintaining faith in the new President and the coalition leaders for direction. The same goes for the coalition leaders for standing up to the former President Jammeh. They have done so by not being confrontational, but very strategic, articulate and with firm understanding of the process of the law and using the Gambian constitution as the framework for response to each of the dictatorial moves of the former President Jammeh.
The post-Jammeh Gambia may be more challenging than the entire 22 years of the former President Jammeh’s rule. The reason for this, is that for 22 years the civil service has been militarised in act and language, the military has lost respect for civilian control, the national assembly has been a forum to play the game of the person in the seat of power rather than developing and respecting the constitution, public service has been tailored to a service of one man, accountability has been a big problem, the judiciary’s independence has been elusive, civil society and the media has been cowed; and the people’s orientation has been programmed to the rule of fear.
We therefore urge President Barrow, as he continues to display commitment to the transition, to pay particular attention to transforming the country by working on the following priority areas:
- Constitutional reform
- Reform of the military and the police
- Civil service reform
- Structural reform of the public sector
- Capacity building for media, civil society, and political parties
- Mainstreaming human rights to all sectors
- Justice sector reform
- Establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission
- Reform of the economy
Part of the challenges for the new government is to build strong institutions and systems that will ensure that the Gambia do not regress back to the situation from which it has just emerged.
The Gambia needs a strong and firm willingness to rebuild the state. The responsibility of educating and re-orientating the public will also be a big challenge that the new government must confront.
It is also important to note that rebuilding the state may need the following contributions from the following stakeholders:
- The New Government must:
- Send a clear message ensuring that promoting unity, peace, rule of law, respect for human rights and democracy are central to its transformation agenda.
- Reach out to the international community and to regional bodies for development assistance for the country’s developmental programs.
- Give clear directives to civil and public servants that accountability to the Gambian people is key to the new government deliverables.
- Source both national and international experts to help in developing reformative systems, due process, and development plans for the country.
- Commit in clear terms to international and regional human rights treaties.
- The ECOWAS regional body must:
- Prioritise support to the Gambia to achieve a more sustainable and enduring democratic process
- Organise a donor conference for the Gambia with strong involvement of both civil society and the private sector.
- Facilitate the re-training of the Gambian security forces.
- Play key role in the review of the justice sector.
- International Community must:
- Mobilise donor to support for the Gambian plan for development.
- Support civil society and the media in holding the new government accountable.
- Support national and regional experts in helping the government with necessary reforms.
HURIDAC is will work with the new government, the Gambian civil society and other stakeholders in ensuring the full and effective implementation on these recommendations.