By Alagie Manneh
The auxiliary role played by former Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan towards resuscitating the stalled constitutional review process has begun to bear fruits, the head of International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), Mr Adebayo Olukoshi said.
In a statement issued Monday, IDEA, the agency that provides the main technical backup to the mission, said Gambian political parties and parliamentarians are now determined to cooperate and resolve the bottlenecks restricting the adoption of a new constitution for The Gambia.
The former president was invited to The Gambia last December, however, he returned to Banjul in the first week of January to continue to facilitate the consultations for advancing the Interparty dialogue towards garnering the required parliamentary support for a draft constitution.
The release said president Jonathan’s intervention has succeeded in producing the trade-offs among the stakeholders that made it possible for them to agree on many of the points debated and how to move the process forward.
“The concessions provide a strong foundation on which to build further in order to give the people of The Gambia the constitutional framework they deserve for advancing their democratic aspirations”, Mr Olukoshi added in the release.
He said the next steps towards the desired outcome will be pursued over the coming days and weeks.
According to Mr Olikoshi, the former Nigerian leader was able “to inspire the kind of confidence and trust that created the atmosphere for the Government, political party leaders, parliamentarians, civil society leaders and other stakeholders in The Gambia to return to the negotiating table and reconsider the draft constitution”.
He stated: “His Excellency former President Jonathan saluted the unalloyed commitment displayed by the political leaders who took an active part in the discussions in striving to unlock obstacles towards the adoption of a new national constitution for The Gambia.
“He (Jonathan) welcomed the show of political will that was in evidence during the discussions, including openness to dialogue, the embrace of a spirit of compromise, and the display of a high sense of personal leadership.”
During the course of his visit, Mr Jonathan held meetings, both bilateral and in various plenary sessions, with key political leaders and a cross-section of Gambian civil society, including religious leaders.