Wednesday, 17.11.2021 - Dakar - SENEGAL

From one presidential election to another, the socio-political situation in The Gambia : presentations and discussions of the PSCC Policy Paper on The Gambia.

On 17 November 2021, the FES Peace and Security Centre of Competence Sub-Saharan Africa held presentations and discussions of policy papers on The Gambia. One was on "Women's perspective on reparations and national reconciliation Republic of the Gambia" written by the Women’s Association for Victims’ Empowerment. (WAVE) and the other on "Elections in The Gambia: A test on Adama BARROW's performance" written by Sanna CAMARA, journalist. It was also an opportunity to discuss the political and social situation in the country just a few days before a presidential election that promises to be particularly contested. Both policy papers are available in the publication section.

Since the departure from power of President Yahya JAMMEH, The Gambia has experienced many upheavals. The arrival of President Adama BARROW has raised great expectations and hopes among the entire Gambian population. Indeed, newly elected, he promised to reform the country in-depth and to put an end to the repression that had characterized the previous government. However, his governance has been the subject of much criticism, despite a promising start. Today, all eyes are on the country as the presidential election approaches. This is a test for democracy in The Gambia, the first time in over 22 years.

Once in power, the new government has embarked on a series of reforms aimed at promoting respect for human rights and the rule of law and restoring public confidence, among other things. Among the initiatives launched by the government is the establishment of a truth, reconciliation and reparations commission. This commission had generated a lot of interest, especially from the many women who were affected by the atrocities of the former Yahya JAMMEH regime. However, it seems that this commission did not really give the women the result they had hoped for. Indeed, through its coordinator, Priscilla Yague CIESAY, WAVE has demonstrated that reparations are intrinsically linked to issues of justice, accountability and reconciliation - all of which fall within the remit of the Government and must be conducted in an open and transparent, fair, just and effective manner. It is common for respondents to have differing views about reparations, the purpose of reparations and the effect they will have on their lives. A few victims have received restitution of their misappropriated property from the former regime as reparation, although this type of support is rarely provided. In general, there is little information on reparations paid during this period.

In terms of governance, Sanna Camara, a former aide to President Adama Barrow, notes bitterly that 'less than half of the priorities mentioned by the president on taking office have been fully implemented to the level of the population's expectations. He believes that President Barrow has not followed up on the recommendations made by several established commissions, some unpopular former officials have even been reappointed to their former positions after testifying before the commission," the Gambian journalist laments. Despite this management being far from the expectations of Gambians, Adama BARROW has not yet made JAMMEH regret. This is at least what Sanna CAMARA wants to clarify during the discussions that followed his presentation. "I do not miss Jammeh. I don't have his nostalgia", says the independent journalist for whom there is no way back. A past in which many things were not possible because they were simply forbidden by the dictator Jammeh. Among these things, freedom of expression has become a reality under Adama Barrow. "No one goes to jail for criticising the president," he admits, adding that the legislature and judiciary are independent of the executive.

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