Gambia’s President Adama Barrow has made a marathon statement on the policy document of his government to the National Assembly in Banjul.
“Together, we have ushered the New Gambia into a world of hope, a world we shall jealously guard to preserve the freedom and dignity of our people. Never again shall this nation return to those dark days of impunity, obvious disregard for constitutional order or be globally isolated,” President Adama Barrow said.
He added: “This is an achievement that we should not take lightly. I thank Allah for this blessing and also seek his continued guidance and strength to serve you well in the coming years.”
President Barrow told deputies that the spirit of unity that brought the last historic presidential election outcome continues to drive the nation forward, which is evident in the business of the new Cabinet. He said this spirit of unity is seen every day across the nation as they strive together to build the New Gambia that the citizens want and deserve. He said the most important achievement so far is the peaceful transition of power to the new democracy.
“You have elected the government that you want, and we have taken your expressions of goodwill and your desire for peace and prosperity seriously,” he asserted.
Barrow has indicated the task of steadily reforming the government machinery so it can do the work of nation building and help strengthen the new found democracy. He commended the ECOWAS, African Union, European Union, United Nation and all international partners that supported his government in this transition. He promised that his government would be action oriented.
He spoke about security, communication infrastructure, energy, trade, foreign policy, judiciary and justice, economy, agriculture and tourism among other sectors of his government’s priorities.
Speaking on the judiciary and justice system, he said they have restored some of the key democratic institutions, the pursuit of justice remains a high priority for his government, saying over 500 prisoners have been pardoned as they have delivered on their promise to decongest prisons by releasing political and other deserving reformed prisoners. He said a Criminal Case and Detention Review Panel has also been established to enquire into all criminal proceedings against current and former public officers.
“Our Judiciary has been ‘Gambianised’ with the appointment of a Gambian Chief Justice and six Superior Court justices,” he said.
President Barrow said his government is working on reforming the security sector which is closely linked to the delivery of justice and the restoration of free and fair democracy, saying gone are the days of armed security personnel representing the face of government. He disclosed that the Gambian Armed Forces are now confined to their military barracks. He noted that members of the former State Guard Battalion have been redeployed to other units, and the armed forces are now disengaged from civilian matters.
“It is also important to note that arms and ammunitions have been stored in safe locations,” Barrow interjected.
However, the Gambian leader applauded the gallant Armed Forces, who have been receptive to the normalization of their role in the state as they continue to play a critical role in keeping the nation safe and secure, and deserve unconditional support and respect as they carry out their professional duties.
President Barrow in addressing the issue of Information and communication said his government have taken concrete steps to review oppressive media laws, to ensure freedom of the press and freedom of expression in the country.
“New communications measures have been introduced to include regular press briefings by the media team at the Office of the President, by the Minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure, and bi-annual news conferences by myself,” he disclosed.
The Gambian leader also promised to improve the country’s energy sector, saying his government has made it a priority from day one, to work with international partners, investors and developers to attract investments in the energy sector.
“Some of the negotiations are at a very advanced stage. We recently signed an agreement for a new 60-megawatt power plant, which will more than double the current generation capacity in the country,” President Barrow pointed out.
President Barrow in speaking about trade and foreign policy said the country would benefit from greater openness through international trade and tourism.
“The Gambia has begun the process of rejoining the Commonwealth, and reaffirmed our membership to the International Criminal Court,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Barrow spoke about his government’s plans on agriculture, international financial affairs and public finances, tourism, youth empowerment, health, fisheries and environment among other things.