Gambia’s transition from tyranny to full democracy happened so quickly that it
is a miracle that as a country we are coming out of it unscathed. For several
weeks during the impasse, many people feared the worst for our dear country:
that it will suffer irreparably damage from the crisis which buffeted us at the
time. Yet, we have come out of with our heads holding high. Why have we been so
successful in managing the impasse of 2016/2017?
The answers are legion; but two stand out: the dedication of our neighbours such as Senegal to rescue what was left of our democracy and also the iron clad insistence of our civil society groups in opposing the ex-president’s attempt to cling to power.
The professional associations, students’ groups and human rights activist fought tooth and nail so to say, to make sure that the verdict of the people stood. The Bar Association for example, came out openly to condemn the attempt by Jammeh to usurp power.
Since the advent of the Coalition government, Gambian civil society has received a re-jig and a boost. The latest addition to the long list of independent minded associations coming out to add a new value to our governance is The Gambia Transition Brain Trust (GTBT).
An interdisciplinary group of Gambian civil, academic, and business leaders, who will provide independent expert advice aimed at assisting the country’s leading decision-makers. The Brain Trust’s main function will be to analyse those challenges that are central to the country’s transition and produce key policy recommendations that draw upon the Trust’s combined knowledge of the Gambian context and transition lessons from other contexts. The GTBT is under the aegis of the Spain based Institute for Integrated Transitions.
The Trust will seek to complement the activities of the Gambia government, while remaining detached from day-to-day party politics and thus better able to provide objective policy analysis and advice tailored to the country’s specific mix of social, political and economic challenges.
Under the aegis of respected Gambian administrator and poet Aja Juka Jabang, The GTBT, will be working to build a new Gambia that is inclusive and cohesive, based on the Rule of Law, justice and fairness for all, in a bid to achieve sustainable socio-economic development for its citizens.
GTBT will accomplish this by analysing and promoting an understanding of these core values as part of its work to advance and deepen the democratic consolidation of the country through specific indicative issues such as support to institutional reform.
We welcome the new body and hope that with utmost interest of The Gambia behind their agenda, they will help to animate the civil society life. Dictatorship was able to thrive because it managed to stifle civil society. This must not happen again.