Barrow addresses UK gathering on Gambia

Banjul, Gambia (PANA) – Gambian President Adama Barrow on Wednesday addressed a gathering in London, UK, on Gambia’s future.

According to Mrs Amie Bojang-Sissoho, Director of Press and Public Relations Office of the President, Barrow was invited by Chatham House, an internationally renowned institution, to speak on the topic: “Shaping The Gambia’s future: how to build a path to sustainable progress" as part of the Gambian leader’s visit to UK to attend the Commonwealth Summit.

He said the socio-economic and political context of The Gambia has been characterised by over two decades of dictatorship. "The country lost its friends and status in the community of nations and respect as home of human rights in Africa,” he reminded the gathering.

Barrow said the peace and stability it nurtured since it attained independence in 1965 eroded in the 22 years of dictatorship. This affected the economy, and disintegrated the social fabric of the society.

According to President Barrow many of the youth left the Gambia in search of a better life; in most cases through dangerous means, to reach Europe and other parts of the world.  

He said the political environment was dangerous for freedom of expression and respect for human rights and thus, a serious brain drain followed.

“The business environment was risky, because the rule of law was not respected. The institutions have been destroyed, systems and procedures were not respected; thus instilling care-free attitude in the public service,” he decried.

“This unfortunate scenario forced Gambians to take a decision to define their destiny.  In 2016, eight stakeholders in the political arena came together to form a coalition and, on the 1st December 2016 Presidential election, Gambians went to the polls and voted me as President.”

He stated that immediately after the coalition government came to office its first priority was to re-open The Gambia to the world, promote human rights and restore freedom of expression.

“We had to build confidence amongst our partners and prepare a strategy to put The Gambia on the path of sustainable development.  In short, we had to right the wrongs in our institutions, systems and procedures.”

Barrow also spoke about his government’s drive to engage in institutional and legal reforms to ensure efficiency in the public service, good governance and progress in national development.  

“My Government’s strategy is now clearly outlined in the National Development Plan 2018-2021. One of the first steps undertaken was to establish the rule of law by releasing all political prisoners, set up a review panel on wrongful dismissals and de-congest the Office of the President,” he said.

He said that his government will move on to build on its diplomacy to return The Gambia into its rightful place in the community of nations and organisations.  

“One of these is the Commonwealth and we are delighted by the re-admission of The Gambia into the Commonwealth of Nations.”

Building the path of sustainable progress in The Gambia, he says, cannot be isolated from the global trend of events.  

It calls for working towards a “Common future”, the theme for this year’s Commonwealth meeting.  

“The spirit of togetherness is key for effective change. This has been demonstrated when Gambians came together to change a dictatorship, which for two decades, robbed the country of its resources,” the Gambian leader added.  

“My Government inherited just over one month of import cover, thus its dependence on international support to revitalise its economy.  Therefore, developed countries should provide improved access to their markets; introduce and promote measures to liberalise trade, particularly in processed agricultural and manufactured goods,” he suggested.  

To conclude, Barrow emphasised that the New Gambia is determined to overcome obstacles along the way in building a path for sustainable progress.  

“As president, I feel humbled to deliver good governance and accountability, social cohesion, and a revitalised economy for the wellbeing of all Gambians, as stated in our National Development Plan 2018-2021.”
-0- PANA MLJ/MA 18April2018

18 april 2018 22:21:31

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