Banjul, Gambia 24th July,2019
The Gambia is undergoing political transformation following the December 2016 presidential election that ushered in a new administration but the gradual return of respect for human rights has also brought some security challenges in the country, Mr Ibrahim Kamara, Secretary General and Head of the Gambian Cabinet said in Banjul on Tuesday, 23rd July 2019.
“The challenges and flash points that have resurfaced include land disputes, cultural conflicts, ethnicity, religious intolerance, and hate speech in the media,” Mr Kamara said in an address to the opening of a four-day Workshop on Peace Building: Strategic Policy, Best Practices and Delivery,” part of several on-going initiatives funded under the EU Support to ECOWAS Regional Peace, Security and Stability Mandate (ECOWAS-EU PSS) Project.
In the address delivered by Mr Mohammed Jallow, Permanent Secretary (Policy and Coordination), Office of the President, the Head of Cabinet urged his compatriots to return the Gambia to its glory days as “a bastion of peace and human rights,” for which the country was chosen as the centre for the African Human Rights Commission.
“You cannot talk about democracy or development without peace,” Mr. Kamara said, noting that while many Gambians lived under fear and suppression of human rights under the last administration, a new trend of “statelessness” was emerging among Gambians, and this he said must be addressed.
The workshop organised in collaboration with the Gambia Office of the President – Department of Strategic Policy and Delivery is part of EU Support to the Consolidation of Peace, Democracy and Good Governance in The Gambia.
In her remarks, the ECOWAS Resident Representative Ambassador Vabah Gayflor, who spoke on behalf of the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, described the workshop as timely.
“The Gambia is currently going through a transition process and therefore taking deliberate steps at the strategic level towards mainstreaming peace building in national development from the policy formulation to the implementation stage geared toward the consolidation of democratic governance,” she said, noting that “these are in consonance with the aspirations of both the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework (ECPF) and the National Development Plan of The Gambia..”
The envoy, who is also civilian head of the ECOWAS military mission in the Gambia, ECOMIG, said “It is therefore the collective responsibility of all of us to ensure that the structures are put in place especially at the policy and decision-making levels to ensure sustainable peace, stability and development.
“We cannot only address conflicts once they are on the front pages of the newspapers,“ the Ambassador affirmed, and reiterated the “commitment of ECOWAS to continue to support the process and to ensure that this activity is implemented effectively and efficiently which is quite fundamental for the implementation of the ECPF not only in The Gambia, but the entire ECOWAS region.”
In her remarks, the EU representative Ms Enya Braun, a Programme Manager at the EU Delegation to The Gambia, said the EU support to the ECOWAS ECPF was anchored on a strategy to make the regional organization more proactive rather than reactive in tackling emerging conflicts.
She noted that this is consistent with the philosophy of African solution to African problems, expressing the hope that the ongoing peace and security initiatives would be effectively coordinated and also involve civil society and Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs).
The EU-ECOWAS support to the Gambia covers areas such as Security sector and electoral reforms, capacity building for various national institutions, training of trainers workshops on peace building, mainstreaming and integrating peace building in public policy, practices and delivery and National civic education.
The workshop is being attended by government officials, representatives of government security agencies, civil society organizations, including the West Africa Network for Peace building (WANEP), experts on conflicts management, officials of the ECOWAS Office in the Gambia and Consultants on the EU-ECOWAS PSS Project from Abuja, Nigeria.