|President Adama Barrow|
When Gambians went to the polls last December 1st, their choice to lead the Coalition of 7 +1 was Adama Barrow. He campaigned and won an election that the entire world, except Yaya Jammeh, acclaimed as free, fair and credible.
In fact, Barrow’s election was historic as being the first time that a sitting dictatorship, with all the instruments of power still firmly under his control, was defeated at the ballot and democratically without a shot being fired.
African dictators have lost power in the past but it has almost always been through the use force or the threat of the use of force. Because of the uniqueness of our last December experience, we have been pleading with the new administration to avoid stepping on a very powerful and unique story that should serve as a platform to start the consolidation of out new found democratic freedoms.
The Coalition government stumbled right out of the gates as some of us expected. If you ask a dozen Gambians the cause for it, you are likely to get a dozen but one different answers. The one reason they all share in common is that the majority of the cabinet lack experience in governance. Whereas this common factor may not be sufficient reason for failure, it is a necessary condition for a slow start as cabinet members feel their way around the treacherous terrain. Most, if not all, have been out in the political wilderness for over two decades.
After almost a year at the helm, President Barrow and his team have made some progress, not of the earth-shattering kind, but progress nonetheless especially in the judiciary where discernible progress is being registered in appointing qualified and experienced Gambians on the bench. Members of the Commission of Inquiry into the illicit wealth of the former dictator have been seated over three months ago and its live extended for an additional six month.
The law establishing the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission is on its final stage of being tabled before the National Assembly. The security sector has also been scheduled for restructuring. This is by no means an exhaustive list because there are ministries where public information is thin.
All of the gains enumerated here will come to naught if hard choices are not made in the country’s economic management team. A significant draw down of the ballooning domestic debt over the last decade must be made to start the reversal of the crowding out of the private sector that has been starved of cash from the commercial banking sector for investment purposes.
The rebuilding effort of the Central Bank must commence from the ground up after what has come to light at the Commission of Inquiry. Without the restructuring of the civil service, it’d not be possible to successfully implement the reforms that must take place to set us on the road to economic recovery.