president of Sierra Leone has urged The Gambia nation to overcome its political
past of 22 years of oppression by forgiving and reconciling through the act of
truth telling on the side of those who perpetrated crimes against the nation.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference held at the State House on Friday morning, President Ernest Bai Koromah said the peaceful political change of government has presented Gambia “a lot of new hope, new beginning, I think you have to just focus on moving forward.”
“Indeed Sierra Leone has come a long way in building a reconciliation vehicle. It is always a very difficult thing to do but I think when you are guided by the fact that you have no other country but The Gambia, you must focus on just moving ahead,” he said.
Earlier, the president who was seated alongside his host Mr. Barrow was asked by this reporter what lessons Gambia could learn from the Sierra Leone experience in rebuilding and reconciling their country after a dark history.
“The issue of the past should be forgotten; learn your lessons to ensure that these things are not repeated. I think working together, bearing in mind that you are brothers and sisters, being each other’s keeper… and also knowing that the leadership is committed to building new institutions should be benchmarks (for addressing the past),” President Koromah said.
He said Sierra Leone had institutions like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up in which people came out and said the truth about what happened and asked for forgiveness. “When things like this are presented, you have the opportunity to forgive and forget, you can easily move on,” he admonished.
His host President Barrow was also asked by Sierra Leonean journalist what he was doing in reconciling the nation after the intervention of ECOWAS in the political impasse that forced Jammeh to hand over power.
Barrow said The Gambia has never experienced a change of government through ballot box for the past 52 years prior to 2016 – for the first time ever, Gambia had one, resulting in an impasse that led to ECOWAS intervention.
“I think The Gambians, particularly the political leaders contributed immensely towards controlling the situation so that it does not lead to something else,” he said, explaining that Gambia’s political leaders were organised, believed in the principles of democracy and most importantly, Gambians are generally a peaceful nation.
He explained that these have helped to control the situation. “Now the country is moving on, that is why we are establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” President Barrow stated, saying they even sent a team to Sierra Leone to study their case so that Gambia can also learn from their process.
“The situation in Sierra Leone was more serious than that of The Gambia. So we have a lot to learn from Sierra Leone in order to move on because Sierra Leone has moved on,” he added
President Barrow also said he believes that in the interest of peace, his government had to create institutions that would lay foundations for democracy “… with those principles, we can be able to succeed as a country; we can unite the country,” Barrow said.