Home Sidi Sanneh's Sidi Sanneh: Communique: Gambia Conference on Reforms and Democracy

Sidi Sanneh: Communique: Gambia Conference on Reforms and Democracy


We, participants of the GAMCORD forum from the
Gambian Diaspora, CSOs, and the private sector, met in The Gambia to deliberate
on the theme: ‘The Diaspora’s potential for impactful reforms in times of
transition’. 

Recalling the Gambia Civil Society Forum II Resolution
adopted at the WACSOF convening, prior to the 49th Ordinary Session of the
ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in Dakar, Senegal, on 2 June,
2015 theme: Gambia- governance, democracy and respect for the rule of law.

Recognizing that The Gambia has undergone a democratic
transition through the ballot box.


Congratulating the entire Gambian citizenry for mustering
the courage in exercising their right to freedom of expression and their right
to vote in a candidate of their choice.

Further Congratulating the Independent Electoral
Commission for discharging its mandate without fear or favour and delivering on
the will of the people on December 2, 2016.


Acknowledging the supportive role played by ECOWAS, under
the leadership of Her Excellency Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the governments of
Senegal, Nigeria and Ghana, for their unflinching commitment to promoting the
culture of democracy in West African region.


Cognizant of the fact that The Gambia has been an
example to other AU member states, that an
aspiration
of a nation to be freed from tyranny and be governed well is possible.


Aware that transitions, in whatever form,
especially given the Gambian context, is challenging.


Fully Aware that after 22 years of tyranny, and
dysfunctionality across the entire system of government, revamping such
anomalies is daunting.


Recognize that the 2017 National Development Plan
makes a strong pronouncement of elevating the needs of the Diaspora and
prioritizing their involvement in the national debates and decision making
processes.


Appreciate the efforts of the current administration in
establishing the transitional justice road map by deploying a Truth,
Reconciliation, and Reparation Commission (TRRC), and the Constitutional Review
Commission (CRC).


Expressing our full support to the TRRC and the CRC.

Further Expressing our gratitude to the CRC for according us
the opportunity to interface and deliberate on core proposals that will further
the quest for good democratic practice, strengthened institutions, and rule of
law in the constitution and the constitutional making process.


Disappointed by the disintegration of the Coalition 2016,
and the deviation from the coalition manifesto and MoU, which has precipitated
a worrying trend of political polarization, and politics of ethnicity in the
country.


Concerned at the dearth of leadership across the
political spectrum to stem the rising tide of ethnic and regional politics.


Further Concerned that the anticipated reforms as envisaged in
the Coalition 2016 Manifesto, public pronouncements of President Barrow and
members of his administration are being deprioritized.


Shocked at the actions of deliberately engaging in a
set of selective amendments, which do not inspire confidence and undermines
public trust and goodwill in the current Administration- these include: The
Elections Amendment Act 2017; and the Gambia Public Procurement Act 2017;


Condemn the continued policies of opacity of state
contracts and contracting, procurement and investments in the country.


Further condemn the continued disregard for environmental
laws and policies, specifically the Banjul Declaration 1977, which aimed to
protect our flora and fauna, as well as the National Environmental Act 1994;
Environment Management Act 1994; Forestry Act 1998; environmental regional,
continental and international normative frameworks and treaties of which The
Gambia is a party.


We, participants of The Gambia Conference on Reforms and
Democracy GAMCORD:


Urge the Office of the President to desist from
interfering in contracting and procurement processes, which only entrenches the
culture of secrecy and corruption in our national contracting processes; we
therefore, urge the Presidency to re-delegate such responsibilities to the
appropriate institution- the Gambia Public Procurement Agency- so as to ensure
that transparency in contracting and procurement are in line with the laws and
procedures that discourage tender rigging, price fixing, cartelism and rent
seeking behaviour, which are the hall marks of secrecy, corruption and
arbitrariness.


Implore the Gambia Government to urgently act on the
Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) report, which
documents and provides irrefutable evidence on how the country was robbed of 1
billion US dollars by ex-president Jammeh.


Further implore the Gambia Government to urgently undertake
action in bringing those implicated in facilitating the looting of 1 billion US
dollars, from the state, to book; and expedite the country's asset
recovery efforts.


Call upon the Gambia Government to urgently review the
Public Order Act to bring it in conformity with regional and international
standards on freedom of assembly;


Further call upon political parties to become more proactive
and engaging in the governance processes of the country, in particular to
effectively and actively participate and influence, as well as monitor public
policy, legislation and hold public institutions accountable.


Urge the National Assembly to play a more
proactive leadership role in the performance of its oversight functions and to
holding the Government accountable.


Further urge The Gambia Government to urgently convene a
national conference to deliberate on the state of education in the country,
which has reached a crisis point.


Call upon The Gambia Government, under the leadership
of President Barrow, to elevate and prioritize a progressive and strategic
legislative agenda which shall include: – An amendment to the Elections Act
2017 to align with the 1997 Constitution section 26- Political Rights, (a);
(b); (c); and section 39 (1). – Embark on a robust exercise to roll out a rapid
set of media legislative reforms that reflects our collective aspirations to
build a democratic state – Transforming GRTS into an independent public
broadcaster – Enact legislation to establish/strengthen a media/public
regulatory authority in line with regional and continental standards. –
Repeal/claw back the GPPA Amendment Act 2018. – Enact an Access to Information
law in accordance to Article 9 of the AUCPCC, which Gambia is a signatory, and
deposited its instruments ratification on 9 July 2009.


We urge the Gambia Government to prioritize security
sector reforms with urgency, and consult and engage with relevant Gambian
experts in the sector to deliver an effective and efficient set of changes to
the sector.


We further urge the government to develop a strategic
planning capacity across the civil service by creating a Planning Ministry with
the primary mission of developing a rolling strategic plan for the entire
economy. 

We call upon The Gambia Government to accede to the African
Peer Review Mechanism-APRM by signing the MoU of the primary governance
instrument in Africa, and take the necessary steps to roll out the Country
Review as a matter of urgency.

We further call upon the Gambia Government to organize a
national dialogue, as a matter of 
urgency,
to address the pressing issues the country faces, which includes challenges to
social 
cohesion.

We implore the National Assembly to show leadership and
exercise its oversight role and ensure that the constitutional review process
is protected from political interference and pave the way for a referendum on
the finalization of the review draft, by passing a law that expressly provides
for a vote on the proposed constitution before the 2021 general elections.


We support the call for the establishment of a
Constitution Implementing Committee/Commission to lead and monitor the
implementation of the revised constitution under the forthcoming Third
Republic.


We express a willingness to work with the Gambia
Government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to design a
strategy/methodology to enable us to be accounted for through an external
census.


We commit to tracking the progress and implementation
of this Communique, by establishing a steering committee to follow through on
agreements reached during GAMCORD 2019.


We express our resolve to continue to engage with
Gambian CSOs, particularly The Association of Non-Government Organizations
(TANGO), to continue to play its role in promoting good governance, strong
democratic practice, and fundamental rights to protect popular participation
and elevate the general principles and demand for public accountability. 

                                                              ###



Sidi Sanneh