By Talibeh Hydara
President Adama Barrow has told the United Nations General Assembly that The Gambia has transitioned into a true multiparty democracy six years after the fall of the Yahya Jammeh dictatorship.
Former president Jammeh ruled The Gambia for over two decades until he was elected out of office in 2016 and the country returned to democratic governance.
Addressing the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, President Barrow reported to world leaders that Gambians have increased participation in national affairs with a vibrant civil society.
“We have come to this Summit with gratitude for the partnerships and support extended to us from 2016 to date.
Mr. Secretary General, we thank you personally and the entire UN Body for the continued support of our peacebuilding and reconciliation efforts. The Gambia has come a long way from dictatorship and has transitioned into a true multiparty democracy.
Following the 2021 Presidential Election and the Legislative Elections this year, the consolidation process is gaining momentum. We will step up reforming and strengthening our national institutions to sustain a robust democracy where human rights and fundamental freedoms underpin our national policies, programmes and development efforts.
As we prepare to end the current electoral cycle with the 2023 Local Government Elections, we are proud that The Gambia now has multiple political parties and vibrant civil society organisations, with a sharp rise in public participation in national affairs,” President Barrow said.
In February 2018, the president launched the National Development Plan (2018 -2021), which replaced Jammeh’s ambitious Vision 2020.
The plan has since been a hit-and-miss but, according to President Barrow, a new development blueprint is being drafted to replace the current one which phased out.
“Amid the socio-economic challenges that beset our nation, characterised by reduced tourism engagements, inflation, food and energy insecurity, and modest economic growth, we are developing a new National Development Plan (NDP) 2022-2026, to succeed the current NDP.
With this new Plan, we seek to advance the pursuit of our national priorities, including the Sustainable Development Goals and the Agenda 2063 of the African Union. We, therefore, solicit the support of the UN system, as well as our friends and development partners,” President Barrow told UNGA77.
The president said the next plan is both economic recovery and growth, with digital transformation and poverty alleviation crucial as well.
He said: “Our goal is to recover and grow our economy, transform digitally, and consolidate our democratic gains. Our resolve is to uplift our people from poverty, secure their livelihoods, and create new avenues to transition into a prosperous, peaceful, and stable nation.”
On the cost of living, the president said:
“In Africa and elsewhere, the cost-of-living crisis and the biting inflation, with food and energy insecurity, are devastating our economies and continue to frustrate pandemic recovery efforts. Additionally, the debt burden has reached crisis levels. We call for general debt relief.
We implore Russia and Ukraine to heed the global plea for political dialogue and end the war. Africa is simply asking for global peace and friendly relations.
Our survival and progress depend on global peace and stability.
The current cost-of-living crisis across the world is a wake-up call for immediate global response to alleviate the suffering and poverty that hold our nations to ransom. The global inflationary trends, food insecurity, and the energy crisis compound the natural disasters that continue to cause havoc around the world. The need for relief grows by the day, yet global efforts appear to be less and less effective.
In this connection, my delegation fully welcomes the establishment of the Secretary-General’s Global Crisis Response Group, and eagerly looks forward to concrete action-oriented recommendations and solutions. As one of the hard-hit developing countries, The Gambia stands ready to cooperate with the Group to find real solutions for immediate relief.”
The president’s full UNGA77 address will be republished in our subsequent edition.