Holding Jammeh to account crucial: Jeffrey Smith

Monday, September 18, 2017

The executive director of Vanguard Africa has said that holding ex-President Yahya Jammeh and members of his government to account is imperative to the healing efforts of the ‘New Gambia’.

“Armed with the lessons of other nations that have endured similar systemic injustices at the hands of officials charged with their protection, Gambia has a tremendous opportunity to craft a process that can achieve justice and healing simultaneously,” said Jeffery Smith.

However, Mr Smith noted that such an objective can only be achieved if it is legitimate – “and not just in the eyes of the elites or those now in power, but among all Gambians” regardless of ethnicity, political party, gender or economic status.

“Accomplishing this role will require a strategy based on the core principles embedded in the diverse culture of the great country, reflecting not the demons of the past but the hopes for a brighter and more prosperous future,” he said.

To be sure, Smith pointed out “the deeply insidious nature of the former regime” which in his view, eroded public trust in domestic institutions and confidence in rule of law need to be seriously addressed.

Smith made these remarks at the Civil Society Forum on New Gambia held over the weekend. The event was organised by civil society groups like Coalition for Change Gambia (CCG) and Democratic Union of Gambia Activists (DUGA), among others. Mr. Smith presented a paper on transitional justice process for the New Gambia.

According to him, the former president’s exploitation of ethnic differences has also left behind entrenched social fissures.

“Therefore, a credible process of holding members of the former regime to account, including the former dictator himself, will be imperative,” he said, adding:  “And so is the need to help divided groups reunite with each other in order to collectively move the country forward and begin filling the void left behind by decades of tyranny.”

Author: Sanna Camara
Source: Picture: Executive Director of Vanguard Africa Jeffery Smith