President Barrow Joins MCC Hybrid Virtual Meeting ahead of the U.S. Summit for Democracy
State House, Banjul, 28thMarch 2023: President Adama Barrow Tuesday joined the Millennium Challenge Corporation – MCC hybrid virtual meeting organised in partnership with the National Endowment for Democracy – NED ahead of the U.S. second Summit for Democracy from 29th -30th March 2023.
Speaking on the theme: The Complex Path to Achieving Democratic Dividends, President Barrow set the context of three decades of Democracy. The Gambia has seen the dividends of Democracy in building our institutions and championing Democracy, including freedom of expression.
He said those gains were lost under dictatorship. The 1994 coup d’etat curtailed civil liberty and destroyed institutional setups and procedures while the economy stagnated to less than two months of import cover.
To restore Democracy, the President outlined the democratic processes that built the confidence of citizens to demand more accountability. He said restoring peace, rebuilding the democratic institutions and values, and protecting civil liberties by opening the media space by approving licenses for private media- T.V. and radio became his government’s focus.
“The democratic dividends within five years made it possible for taxpayers to demand dividends of paying taxes and regained faith and confidence in the judiciary and governance framework. Civil liberty is at its height, and remittance from Gambians in the Diaspora and investments all resulted in a turnaround in the economy.”
President Barrow went on to state that the economy was on the right trend until the impacts of COVID-19 and the war between Russia and Ukraine disrupted it.
‘’Democracy brought accountability, and we can invest domestic revenue in infrastructural development in remote areas. Communities were isolated from such development; for over 50 years, we relied on donor support to construct roads. Under my leadership, the government mobilised domestic resources and invested in social projects. In addition to legal and security sector reforms that are expanding development, promoting peace, driving the fight to end poverty, and providing access for hard-to-reach communities.’’
He added that coupled with new laws, policies, and programmes, and with support from partners like the MCC, The Gambia is enjoying the dividends of Democracy.
The challenges he highlighted included human resource capacity on new technologies, limitations in skilled areas, and limited job opportunities amongst the youthful population. Response to the high demand for social projects that impact the lives of the people, the impact of climate change, and limited funding were also raised as challenges for the timely delivery of results for our people.
President Barrow pointed out that a continuous negotiation of the public space for freedom of expression and the fine line with hate speeches, threatening peace and stability, is also a major challenge in achieving the democratic dividend.
He added that improving the governance environment could be challenging, citing the difficulties in building evidence for corruption allegations and the constant demand for national security for people and their properties to feel safe.
Calling for tolerance, President Barrow pronounced that Civil Society should understand that they are partners with the government and urged them to work together for the supreme interest of the people and uplift their living conditions.
He thanked the organisers for recognising the efforts being done in The Gambia to promote and achieve the dividends of Democracy.
Other Panellists included the Ivorian Prime Minister, H.E Excellency Patrick Achi, Gambian Civil Society representative Marr Nyang and Flan Moquet César from Cote D’Ivoire.