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Present during the lunching was Hon. Suwaibou Touray who is the only National Assembly member who attended the lecture series of Prof. Baba Galleh Jallow on Saturday August 12th at the Tango office hall, commended the initiative of the ‘Initiative for the Promotion of Democracy and Good Governance’( IPDG)for coming up with such sensitization programmes especially relating to Transitional Justice Mechanism in The Gambia.

Hon. Touray opined that Prof. Jallow spoke lengthily about communication which he wholeheartedly accepted and said communication should be the starting point in everything we do because without it nothing will work. He also commended the initiative of Mrs Isa Haruna Jammeh whose organisation ‘Gambia Center for Human Rights Violations’ has initiated a sensitisation programme throughout the country.

Hon. Touray said sensitisation of the people on the transitional justice system especially regarding the TRRC is crucial as it will inform the victims and their relatives that they now have a place to seek for justice where they can report their grievances.

He also said the TRC should not just sit in Banjul and think that victims or relatives of victims would readily come to report cases but should endeavor to reach out to people across the country to make themselves available to them. For example, he said the APRC government had removed a lot of Alkalolu and replaced them with their party militants some of whom were children of those alkalos. He said the communities up to now are engaged in endless squabbles and infighting and snubbing each other because they do not accept Jammeh’s imposed alkalos and there is no peace in those villages.

So he said it is important for TRRC to reach out and hear such communities and not take them for granted and allow the people to be in control of their societies.

Hon. Touray opined that the communication that is required should not only be for the victims or relatives of victims to know what happened to their loved ones but also to know how it happened and who is actually responsible for what had happened to them. He said it will be necessary for the perpetrator to even sit down with the victim or relatives and communicate through which reconciliation and forgiveness may follow suit. He said this may take several meetings otherwise he said it could still be the traditional way of just calling on the victim to forgive the perpetrator ‘for the sake of god’ which may not serve the ultimate purpose.

Hon. Touray said there are many methods to reconcile people and we must look at each situation and engage in the best method for each particular situation since we do not want a repeat of the past.

Thanking Mr. Alex Dakosta of the OSPG civil society organisation that stood by the students on April 10/11 students demonstrations and said they are not a new organisation, Touray said we should not worry whether we are new civil society groups or not. He said what is required is as many civil society groups as possible so that we build the required collaborative efforts and methods to make sure we do not slide back to where we come from. He said we can see some resistance to certain changes from certain quarters and therefore should not stay on our laurels but to push for total reforms during this process.

Hon. Touray welcomes the role the IPDG intends to play and informed Dacosta that they at the level of the National Assembly have set up an anti corruption committee to help in reducing the level of corruption in the Gambia. Touray said we all know that corruption is rife and if nothing is done about it then development will not take root. He cited many examples of corruption such as money laundering which he said is very destructive but difficult to control.He said their committee will be glad to collaborate with them to influence policy, etc.

Hon. Touray is of the opinion that Professor Baba did not lay much emphasis on reforms. He said we need Constitutional, Legal and Administrative reforms which he said are very important. He added that these reforms are crucial so that we make it almost impossible to slide back to anarchy or dictatorship.

Commenting on the economy, Touray said Prof. Baba mentioned the economy. He said he is studying the trend and has made many contributions regarding the economy in Parliament. He said the trend of just taking loans and building infrastructure just to be seen to be doing something is not the desirable thing and is not sustainable. He said loans cannot solve long term problems. He gave an example that if you take a 100 million dollar loan to build the Soma/Basse road and you are supposed to pay 2% as service charge for 30 years; that is 60% in 30 years. And if that is added to the interest of say 5%, then it is 65% of the 100 million one pays at the end of the day. He said before the settlement of the loan in 30 years, the road build would have been dilapidated and needs rebuilding, and therefore one has to take another loan to do that. “How long can we continue like this?” He asked. He said loans should be invested in the productive base to generate employment and wealth to help in the payment of the debts we owe. He said selling of government assets to settle debts is also not the answer to our development challenges. He advised that once we take that trend, then we are not only going backward but going far far behind, because he said without developing the economy, there would be no durable stability in society.

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