By Tabora Bojang
The speaker of the national assembly Fabakary Tombong Jatta has reminded parliamentarians of their duty to speak on behalf of the poor and other vulnerable groups, hold government to account and ensure that development plans are informed by the real priorities on the ground.
Speaker Jatta also stated that now there is already a growing interest more than ever before in issues related to democracy, peace and development and this is a reflection of the increasing acceptance of the fact that democracy and good governance are not a luxury, but a fundamental requirement to achieve sustainable development.
He added that Parliaments, as one of the key state institutions in a democratic system of governance have a critical role to play in promoting sustainable development. As elected representatives of the people, parliaments have the task to ensure a government by the people and for the people. In the performance of their key functions of legislation, representation and oversight, parliaments can actively engage in the development and implementation of laws, policies and practices that promote overall national development,” FTJ told NAMs attending a two-day capacity building programme organized for them by the International Republican Institute, IRI with funding from the US Embassy in Banjul.
The training seeks to empower lawmakers and upgrade their capacity in appropriate areas of their legislative functions and ensure they contribute to an effective Sixth Legislature.
The speaker expressed optimism that the engagement will accord opportunities to NAMs to share experiences with the trainers to illustrate the different options the Assembly can use to better engage with the citizens in order to fulfil its representation and oversight roles and identify innovations and experiences from other countries to show the evolvement of parliamentary representation and how parliaments are responding to the expectations of the citizens.
U.S Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission, Eric Mehler, underscored the great responsibilities vested on the Sixth Parliament to embrace democratic promises, saying the decisions by the citizens to see that majority of their representatives are from the youth cadre has brought a new perspective, vision and enthusiasm in the National Assembly.
He said the U.S government remains firmly committed to Support the country’s continuous democratic development and work in collaboration with the government and citizens to achieve the possibilities inherent in robust and thriving democracy and build a more free, equal and just society.
The Chairman of TANGO John Charles Njie, told NAMs that in spite of the nature of parliamentary politics, Gambians placed high values on them and expected them to hold themselves to high standards of integrity underpinned by acting in concert when it comes to national and public interests.
The Country representative of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, Madi Jobarteh said the fact that most laws of the country rooted from the colonial period and were weakened in terms of human rights quality by the Jammeh regime, Gambia needs a reversal to build good laws and strong institutions with the capacity to enforce them and deliver quality services.
“This is all the more reason why there is a need for a strong National Assembly that will trigger, guide, and monitor legal and institutional reforms in order to usher in a new era of good governance that will guarantee human rights, peace and stability, and shared prosperity for all,” he added.