President Adama Barrow recognised the United States’s support to the Gambia in an audience with the U.S. Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights, Ms Uzra Zeya, on Monday, 13th March 2023, at the State House in Banjul
Ms Uzra is the most Senior Biden government official to visit The Gambia, and The Gambian President acknowledged the threshold and Compact support the United States offered to the country.
The U.S. support will help consolidate the gains the Barrow regime realised in the areas of democracy and good governance, including the implementation of the recommendations of the TRRC White Paper 2021. President Barrow emphasised the importance of reparation and access to justice in the country’s transitional programme, stating, “We want to adequately compensate the victims of injustices because most of them are breadwinners of their families, and it has taken a long time to get to where we are.” He added that his government is working on establishing a hybrid court to prosecute perpetrators of heinous crimes, as indicated in the White Paper on the TRRC Report.
Acknowledging the encouragement from the U.S. government, President Barrow noted that while his government is limited with resources, they manage the citizens’ expectations by investing in social projects that meet the people’s demands, create job opportunities for the youth and generally improve the welfare of Gambians. “Social projects help maintain peace and stability, and democracy cannot be without peace and stability,” President Barrow remarked. He observed that generally stabled and developed countries uphold democracy, and these are best practices and values his regime wants to emulate and invest in various development sectors by enhancing domestic resource mobilisation. The President informed Ms Zeya that he is a fan of term limits and that his government
will re-introduce a new futuristic Constitution for all citizens, adding that lack of term limits is one of the problems in Africa’s governance and security environment. While noting the strong political will to fight corruption, President Barrow also observed the challenging forces against it, but said he was happy with the progress.
On regional and multilateral issues, President Barrow took pride in The Gambia’s leadership at the ECOWAS Commission and the Authority’s peace efforts in the sub-region. He assured Under Secretary Zeya of The Gambia’s friendship and support at all levels for the mutual benefit of both countries and their people. He expressed delight in President Biden’s pledge at the US-Africa Summit to support The Gambia amongst other African countries for their development and prosperity. The Gambian leader concluded, “We will continue building our institutions with genuine partners and visible projects for sustainable development.”
Ms Uzra Zeya, for her part, observed that The Gambia TRRC is a model worth saluting, as it incorporates reparation and Prosecution. She disclosed that America’s development agency, USAID, will re-establish itself in The Gambia and support the access to justice programme of the government in partnership with CSO stakeholders.
Elaborating on the USAID project, H.E Excellency Ambassador Sharon Cromer informed the President that the support would include support to the office of the Special Prosecution in drafting legislation and a joint commission in establishing a hybrid court, working CSOs.
Ambassador Cromer also disclosed that the United States would support agriculture in ensuring food security by providing food aid which would be monetised to support the Agriculture programme. The support also include assisting the Gambia to transit from Malaria control to malaria elimination.
The support will also extend to the security sector on humanitarian and disaster management, as in sixteen other countries. She referenced the outcome of a recent visit by a U.S. technical team with delight for The Gambia’s progress. Thus, the U.S. will support the Ministry of Finance with technical assistant support with a Budget Adviser embedded in Ministry’s team.
The U.S. support for the country is noticeable as the U.S. Under Secretary described it as “The Gambia’s dramatic progress” that led to the MCC’s recognition, the U.S. upgrading the country to Tier 2 on Trafficking in Person status and investing in host communities to support migration challenges while partnering in other shared concerns in diplomacy.