By Mustapha S. Koli
Alhagie Hammeh Minteh Krubally, Chief of Basse in the Upper River Region (URR)
has praised the three national assembly members from the Upper River Region for what he described as their commitment to maintenance of peace in the region.
The National Assembly Members are Honorable: Seedia Jatta NAM for Wuli West, Alhagie Sowe NAM for Jimara and Suwaibou Touray NAM for Wuli East who recently travelled to the region to attend a day long pre-bantaba orientation workshop on peace building in URR.
The daylong orientation workshop on political tolerance and pluralism was organized by Beakanyang, a human rights and development NGO with support from the International Republican Institute( IRI).
“Your presence here today is a clear indication of your love and commitment to nurturing peace and development not only in your constituencies but URR in general,” he noted.
According to him, such a forum is very timely and relevant for the people of the region considering the recent events in the region.
He further stressed that issues such as political conflicts and problems resulting from the case systems must be stopped and addressed in the interest of sustainable peace and development.
In his welcome remarks, Nfamara Jawneh, the Executive Director of Beakanyang disclosed that the pre-bantaba is a preparatory event ahead of their forthcoming district bantabas in the region.
The bantabas he said, will take place in Jimara, Sandu, Wuli West and Kantora districts of Upper River Region next month.
According to him, participants of the pre-bantaba session will share experiences and knowledge about political tolerance and pluralism and develop peace messages to be use during the bantabas.
Beakanyang Director commended the IRI for supporting the pre-bantaba and other activities of the organization in the region.
Mr. Jawneh said it has come to the attention of his office that since the change of government in 2016, communal conflicts have surged in the region. “We have realized that conflicts related to politics, caste system, animal encroachment into farmlands have all increased in the region over the years. We cannot continue to live in such unfortunate situation as a region,” he said.
He said that was why they have also launched a weekly radio program at Radio Basse called of Peace Hour radio to promote political tolerance and pluralism in the region.
He said the radio programme would be hosting National Assembly Members from the region and members of Inter-party Youth Committee to dialogue with the people on the importance of maintaining social cohesion and harmony.
The rights activist reaffirmed his organization’s commitment in accompanying Gambian people through the country’s democratic transition.
Beakanyang boss further reminded the audience that no individual or community in The Gambia is above the law and that the rule of law must be maintained and respected by all.
In his opening remarks, the deputy governor of URR, Samba Bah applauded the Beakanyang organization and its partners for organizing such an important event in the region.
He said that since people cannot buy peace its everyone’s responsibility to maintain it.He blamed the political intolerance among political supporters on lack of political awareness and maturity.
Mr. Bah urged the participants to take the workshop seriously and to also share the knowledge and message gain from the forum with their members and the wider society.
For his part, Hon. Sidia Jata National Assembly member for Wuli West decry politics of insult and vote buying adding they are dirty politics. He reminded the people gathered about the Rwandan genocide during which hundreds of people were massacred.
“We cannot all support one political party or issue but what is more important is to note that all parties want peace and party supporters should equally embrace peace,” he said.
The veteran politician urged people in the region to love each other and put aside their political and other differences for the development of the region.
“We must ensure political tolerance if we want to live in peace with one another and use politics as a tool for development,” he added.
The lady Councilor of Jimara Aja Jarai Jagana expressed her happiness to attend such an important forum. Noting that women are usually victims of political violence thus called on women to say no to political violence.
Chairperson of Inter-Party Youth Committee of URR Alieu Kebbeh commended Beakanyang for partnering with his committee to promote peace and social cohesion in the region.
He urged youth to desist from participating in any activity or associating with any group that is violent in nature.
The forum was attended by about thirty participants including representatives of all active political parties in the region, national assembly members and inter-party youth committee.