(West Africa) with support from National Endowment for Democracy (NED) under
its ‘’Strengthening Civic Voice and Improving Grassroots Democratic
Participation in The Gambia’’ initiative, Monday held a consultative forum for
Civil Society Organizations (CSO) in Banjul, Kanifing and Brikama where they
discussed access to information, governance, accountability and citizen
engagement for the newly elected Municipal officials with the view to
strengthening civic space, voices and engagement at local government level.
The local government elections that were held some few months ago in The Gambia provided the opportunity for newly elected mayors to implement their manifestos.
As a complement to the provisions on representativeness in terms of structure in the Local Government Act, there remains room for additional recommendations on how citizens can further seek information, engage with the local government process to achieve manifesto promises and to promote initiatives that could foster open government and public participation.
The forum made some resolutions and recommendations that should be taken by councils after their 100 days in office after looking at the issues around the three councils especially on good governance, accountability and access to information. It also highlighted some of the campaign promises made by mayors and chairpersons during the campaign, manifestations and their achievements so far.
Speaking at the forum held at the Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Institute, Amporful Agyemang, Article 19 program officer for The Gambia said in line with the initiative, a subsequent survey will be carried out in the aforementioned council areas to receive views of sampled public on the same issues.
He said in September, ARTICLE 19 would hold a bigger forum where Mayors will be invited for a presentation of the recommendations. “The outcome of this pilot will be reviewed and adapted for other areas of the country,” he said.
Mr. Agyemang pointed out that the mayors and chairmen made big promises and as a Civil Society Organization, they should be able to track the promises. “We have a lot of reactive work from CSOs which is normal in transitional periods”, he said, adding that CSOs should not wait for incidents to happen to issue statements, which, he said do not go far in terms of what they want governments to do.
ARTICLE 19 is a leading free expression organization on media and freedom of expression regulation with more than three decades of experience across the world including in Africa. Beyond their regular support to media and civil society, the organization supports governments to ensure that they develop framework to support free expression and access to information.
It maintains a long track record working in The Gambia for the past two decades, which provided them the opportunity to support national partners, human rights defenders and journalists when it was most needed and to understand the context and challenges of the transition.