By Tabora Bojang
Civil Society Organisations of the Gambia have expressed optimism that impunity will be a thing of the past in the new dispensation under president Adama Barrow-led government.
This was made in a statement of the CSO’s perspective on the new Gambia delivered by Mr. Omar Badgie, the executive director Action Aid International the Gambia, during the recent FOREID public symposium held at the Ebunjan Theatre.
The forum is meant to provide civil society, the private sector, women and youth perspective on what the so-called new Gambia means.
According to him, after the regime change, the country came to face with the stark reality of how much damage was done during the last 22 years as violations of human rights, intimidation, intolerance to dissenting voices and impunity all became apparent whiles decision making processes were all centered around one person which weakened the governance leading to breakdown of system.
“The role of civil society organisations in Jammeh’s Government though appreciated but was limited to direct service delivery only. There was very little room for policy work because CSOs were seen as trouble makers; any minor issue can lead to closure, arrest and in some cases disappearance,” he said.
Badgie added that the new Gambia came at a time when the world is faced with huge and complex challenges which have the potential to reverse many years of hard earned development gains.
He said the resolve to develop the new Gambia should be a collective responsibility in the form of partnerships between the public, private and civil society.
He said it is reassuring that the new government is committed to enact freedom of information Act as well as stressing the need for the institutionalization and strengthening of checks and balances by consolidating judicial, parliamentary, media and other civil society oversight and to hold public servants accountable.
The Action Aid boss also spoke of the CSO’s enthusiasm to collaborate with the government as partners in capacity building, rights awareness creation for the public and formation of strong people’s organisations as a platform for advocacy and campaign for policy influencing.
He said civil society organisations look forward to working with the new government to achieve social justice for all by eradicating poverty and injustice, ensure gender equality, youth empowerment and strengthening the resilience of communities in the face of climate change.