Group Of President Barrow and the party leaders
By Ramatoulie Jawo
President Adama Barrow presided over the first National Dialogue on Monday, convening political parties to address pressing national matters at the State House in Banjul.
The dialogue gathered political party leaders, representatives, cabinet ministers, civil society organizations, and dignitaries under the theme of “Our Collective Responsibility in Preserving the Nation, Safeguarding the State, and Securing Our Resources.”
In his opening statement, John Charles Njie, a member of the preparatory committee, urged political leaders and the nation to move beyond the dichotomy of opposition and embrace a spirit of collaboration. He emphasized the importance of unity in charting a path forward for the country and restoring hope among citizens.
“I really don’t understand who is opposing who or what holding divergent perspectives does not have to translate to opposition but rather a complementary partnership,” he said.
Mr. Njie emphasized the significance of the dialogue as an opportunity for unity in steering their beloved motherland towards a brighter future and instilling much-needed hope among the populace.
He further articulated that it offers the chance to demonstrate political maturity and acceptance within their subregion, serving as a beacon of hope and rejuvenation for a region struggling with democratic challenges.
“It also presents with us the prospect of being an example of political maturity and acceptance in our subregion, thereby inspiring hope and a new lease of life to a subregion on democratic life support,” he said
Highlighting the current state of affairs, Mr. Njie lamented the loss of joy in the Smiling Coast, noting the myriad challenges facing the nation.
“For our land cries out as innocent blood has been shed our women die in labour, we bash and malign each other because of our diversity, our young people continue to lose hope and embark on suicidal journeys in the name of searching for greener pastures, women treated unfairly by us the men, rape and other crimes plague us, victims of past human rights violations still have their tears,” he highlighted.
President Barrow echoed the call for unity and emphasized the responsibility of every citizen to contribute to national security and stability. He emphasized the importance of forging consensus on divergent views and leveraging differences as strengths rather than sources of division.
“My government holds the view that we should always try to forge a national consensus on national issues that generate divergent views. Such divergence must not result in enmity or disunity. Instead, it should be tapped into as a source of strength for us to tolerate, appreciate, and empathize with one another. In this way, all citizens would have the opportunity to contribute to sustaining peace and stability nationwide,” he added.
Addressing leaders and influencers, President Barrow emphasized their role in promoting peace and stability through constructive engagement with the public. He encouraged active participation in the forthcoming national dialogue to strengthen social cohesion and tolerance.
The dialogue’s thematic discussions covered a range of topics including the political environment, religious tolerance, ethnic diversity, security, media freedom, irregular migration, and youth empowerment.
“The thematic discussions are proposed to cover the political environment, religious tolerance, ethnic diversity, sovereign security, safeguarding the media and democratic space, irregular migration, and empowerment of our youth,” he said.
President Barrow stressed the collective responsibility to safeguard the nation amid global uncertainty and insecurity. He highlighted The Gambia’s positive social norms and values as tools for unity and resilience.
“We live in a world of uncertainty, instability, and insecurity. So we must act collectively and resolutely ahead of any potential unrest or calamity. We are blessed in The Gambia with positive social norms and values that can always bring us together and help us to preserve our warmth and brand as the Smiling Coast of Africa,” said President Barrow.
Throughout the interface, party leaders and representatives addressed various concerns including security, education, food security, rule of law, land reform, and civic education.