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IRI Organises Two Day Capacity Building Training For NAMs

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By: Kebba AF Touray

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta, told lawmakers that parliament speaks on behalf of the poor and other vulnerable groups to ensure that development plans are informed by the priorities on the ground.

Speaker Jatta said this yesterday Wednesday 18th January 2023, while delivering his opening statement at the ongoing two day capacity building training for Lawmakers, organized by the International Republican Institute (IRI) in partnership with the Office of the Clerk of the National Assembly, and funded by the United States Embassy in the Gambia. The two day forum among others, is expected to enhance discourse while ensuring lessons and experiences are shared.

“To effectively deliver on this herculean task, strengthening the ability of the National Assembly to engage in planning and assessment of development policies and programmes, is fundamental. It is for this reason that we are once more partnered with IRI to conduct this exercise”, he said. He stated that the capacity building engagement is significant because the already growing interest more than ever before on issues related to democracy, peace and development. He said this is a reflection of the increasing acceptance of the fact that democracy and good governance are not luxury, but a fundamental requirement to achieve sustainable development.

“Parliaments as one of the key state institutions in a democratic system of governance, have a critical role to play in promoting sustainable development. As the democratically elected representatives of the people, parliaments have the honorable task to ensure a government by the people and for the people,” he added. That in the performance of their key functions of legislation, representation and oversight, parliaments can actively engage in the development and implementation of laws, policies and practices that promote overall national development, and that the forum therefore will explore and analyse the contribution that the National Assembly of The Gambia can make through effective legislation, representation and oversight, to consolidate democracy, peace and security. He encouraged the Members to make best use of the opportunity, and also expressed profound appreciation to IRI for enabling them deliver the initiative. 

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Madi Jobarteh, the Country Director of Westminister Foundation, said “to put it directly, the National Assembly must recognize that good governance and sustainable development of the Gambia lie squarely in their hands.” That by their oversight, lawmaking, representation and resource distribution functions, the National Assembly is therefore the foremost accountability and quality assurance body in the country, with powers to ensure that public resources are judiciously expended to provide quality public goods and services for the people, and to ensure human rights are protected, and rule of law is adhered to.

He stated that the building and strengthening of democracy and good governance cannot take place in the absence of good and human rights-friendly laws with strong institutions, adding that it is obvious that most of the laws of the Gambia came from the colonial period or were hugely weakened in terms of their human rights quality by the former dictatorial regime. He said the country therefore needs to do a reversal and build good and human rights friendly laws and strong institutions with the capacity to enforce those laws and deliver quality services in order to attain sustainable development.

John Charles Njie, the Chairperson of the Association of Non-Governmental Organizations said the citizenry look up to lawmakers to represent them well and ensure that there are enough checks and balances in the governing systems, as well as ensure that legal reforms take place.

“We hope and pray that from this and other ongoing capacity building programs that the National Assembly will be going through, we will see a more robust National Assembly, and with the coming into force of an autonomous National Assembly, these expectations of Gambians is very high,” he said.

His Excellency, Eric Mehler, the Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Ambassador to the Gambia, congratulated the members of the Sixth Legislature on their elections victory, and reminded them to embrace the promises of democracy. He said US assistance to IRI and partners in the country over the past seven years, has supported the assembly to pass several landmark legislations such as the Access to Information Bill in 2021, the 2020 persons with Disabilities Bill, the introduction of 2019 Anti-Corruption Bill among others.

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