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Jammeh vows to transform The Gambia

Jan 20, 2012, 11:48 AM | Article By: Lamin B. Darboe & Isatou Senghore

Yahya Jammeh was sworn in for a fourth five-year term of office Thursday as President of the Republic of The Gambia, pledging to transform The Gambia into an economic superpower.

Jammeh, in power since 1994 after he overthrew former President Dawda Jawara in a bloodless coup, was re-elected in the 24th November 2011 presidential polls with 72% of the total votes cast.

 “For the massive support and love Gambians have for me, I hereby pledge to take you to the promise land of an undisputed economic super power, by the grace of God, in the not too distance future,” Jammeh declared, shortly after he was sworn in by the Chief Justice of The Gambia, Justice Emmanuel Agim.

The ceremony was held at the Independence Stadium in Bakau, attended by over 30,000 people, among them three African presidents from Senegal, Sierra Leone and Mauritania.

Also attending the inauguration were the prime ministers of Guinea Bissau, Rwanda and Swaziland, former president Sir Dawda Jawara and former president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo.

The president of the Algerian Senate, foreign minister of Gabon, speakler of the Ethiopian parliament, and foreign minister of Taiwan attended, as were delegations from Kenya, Morocco, Liberia, among other dignitaries from overseas.

In his inaugural statement, President Jammeh announced the theme for his address as: “Gambians United to Build an Economic Superpower”.

“The country’s “notion of building an economic superpower is not epitomized by a keen competition for lethal weapons of mass destruction and incitation of enmity among nations, so that such weapons can be sold to boost our economic progress at the expense of innocent lives, but a notion marked by the creation of a secured environment by the state for the preservation of peace, social justice, human dignity and high quality of life for all and sundry,” he said.

Jammeh added that all these objectives required the utilization of human ingenuity in the search for greater peace, love and prosperity for human kind.

Making reference to the recently-launched national Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE), Jammeh noted the beginning of his new term of office for the next five years coincided with the commencement of the implementation of phase one of the PAGE, which spells out the government’s priorities and activities for the period 2012-2015.

The successor programme, he added, “will follow to guide us through to the year 2020, which is the target year for the realization of our Vision 2020”.

“The hallmark of the PAGE is that it is dynamic and transformative, therefore, has the propensity to transform The Gambia into a highly developed country, with highest living standards for the citizenry,” he further stated.

“The road to making The Gambia an economic super power is very clear as the objective is within sight, and there is no turning back. Let us unite for progress, dignity and freedom from poverty and destitution,” Jammeh added.

He also stated that his government’s achievements over the past 17 years “ convince us sufficiently that we can attain a lot more if we unite under one supreme umbrella and work together diligently, honestly and in the best interest of everyone of us.

“Africans, including Gambians, have been known to be resilient in naturally resisting hardship, but with the breakthrough in the sciences and traditional medicine, we will have to transform that resilience into positive energy with directives for positive change and embed our sense of patriotism in a new form of citizenry,” he noted.

In the years ahead, Jammeh went on, the Gambian people will not only have to catch up with the advanced countries, but also strive to overtake them, noting that global trends dictate that to achieve this, education, training, science and technology as well as innovation must serve as the axis for scaling up the development process in the country.

He noted that vices of economic growth such as money laundering, environmental degradation, forced labour and trafficking in persons and drugs are inimical to sustained economic development, and will never be tolerated by his government.

“We have promulgated the necessary legislation and established the relevant institutions, but a characteristic common to all laws is that their effective enforcement depends on every one of us. We must unite as patriotic Gambian citizens, and work with our law enforcement institutions and agencies to cleanse all potential breeding grounds for crime, once and for all,” Jammeh continued.

The Gambian leader also underscored his commitment to universal access to uninterrupted supply of electricity and water in the country, noting that in this direction, the initial electricity projects, such as the additional power generation capacity Brikama Phase I, the West Coast Region Electrification Project, The Gambia-Venezuela Project, the Rural Electrification Improvement and Extension project, as well as the ongoing water projects will be expanded during the next five years.