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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

‘Gambia still crippling with legacy of dictatorship’

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By Omar Bah

Bakary Bunja Dabo, leader of the Gambia For All party and a former vice president, has said that the Barrow-administration has not done much to clean the legacy of Jammeh’s 22-year dictatorship.

“If the 2016 elections had freed the country from the clutches of an appalling dictatorship, we have to recognise that its legacy is still very much in place,” Dabo said at his party’s maiden press conference at Fajara yesterday.

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He said the two decades of misrule, mismanagement and institutionalised corruption has left behind an “extremely weak and fragile state, with a much polarised society and a weakened sense of national oneness, a weak and fragile state with key institutions decimated or in decay, an economy in doldrums and state tottering under a bewildering pile-up of social and environmental problems.”

Dabo added that it was based on these grave concerns about the state of the country that he and his followers take on the daunting challenge of rebuilding the country.
“The coalition project had promised that top priority would be accorded to wide ranging reforms to rapidly putting in place a sound foundation for rebuilding our ruined state. Today, three years into the transition, the low space of the steps being taken, where any action has started at all, is the cause of dwindling public confidence,” he added.

He further stated that the focus of political discourse in the country generally continues to be on petty partisan issues, rather than the articulation of clear ideas for fostering stable democratic governance with vibrant economic transformation in order to meaningfully address the challenges of unemployment.

“The situation is leading the citizens to blame the entire political class, not just the government, for this lacklustre state of affairs; the badly needed hope continues to elude the people,” he added.

He emphasised that the choice of name for Gambia For All places special emphasis on inclusiveness, “a quality that has so far very much eluded our national life. We come in peace and for peace; we abhor violence in any form. We come with an open arm; we bear no ill-will to anyone.”

GFA, he added, will seek to promote understanding and collaboration with all. “We are open to dialogue but for us the focus remains programme-focused discourse.”
BB also announced his party’s plans to put the young people in the center of its agenda.

Answering a question on how his party aims to fight corruption, Dabo agrees that corruption counts as one of the worst enemies of Africa.
“I think corruption is very destructive to states in Africa and it is true that African states do have their own share of that. The Gambia For All is setting out with the awareness that the deplorable situations we now have, have been brought about to a large extent by corruption. We know therefore that there is no way we can make an impact without finding a way of tackling it,” he said.

The veteran politician said tackling corruption calls for lot of measures which will include improved legislation or even leaning more on the Judiciary for even stiffer sentences.
“But I think a good example has to be set by the top leadership for good governance and clean government. This is what GFA will stand for. But as I said we will make sure that we put in place effective processes and practices to the very best to ensure corruption as a problem is manageable,” he said.

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