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Gambia@55: President Barrow Preaches Ethnic and Political Tolerance

It’s 55 years today since The Gambia attained independence on the 18th February, 1965 from the British. The Gambian leader, Adama Barrow used the occasion in Banjul on Tuesday to preach tolerance to citizens in respect to the seemingly-division on ethnicity and partisan lines, resulting in derailing the country’s development.

Addressing the jubilant crowd at the McCarthy’s Square in Banjul, he said after five decades as an independence sovereign state, responsible for managing its affairs without any external interference, it should trigger thoughts to guide citizens to define their individual roles in order to reposition the country better on the global stage.

President Barrow inspects soldiers parade

“As this is our national day, it’s a moment to unite and deliberate on national issues and not on partisan and conflict interest. As true sons and daughters of the Gambia, this is a moment to reflect on the implications of independence, not only political independence but also social and economic independence. Having emerged under the decades of underdevelopment, slow progress….and dictatorship, the time has come for us to reflect objectively and selflessly on what needs to be done differently for better result,” Barrow said.

He went on to urge all stakeholders in national development to act together by leaving aside their individual differences which may lead to slow progress. 

“As the country prepares itself for another series of national elections starting next year with the Presidential election, Barrow challenged citizens to demonstrate what independence means to them.

“Let us demonstrate that we are capable of managing our affairs by accommodating our differences, celebrating our successes, providing feedback with discipline and expressing our own opinions in respect and dignity…We must be aware of all divisive speeches, actions, sentiments…that may lead to social division in our communities,” he said. 

According to the President, while ethnicity contributes significantly to the richly-blended culture and stands out as a diverse source of the country’s culture, if the relationships are not cordial, it can lead to devastating consequences, referencing that it has plunged many nations into instability.

“Party politics which is often at the root of more deadly ethnic classes must not be based on ethnicity. Instead, politics should be driven by a sound vision, appropriate programs, and delegated service in the best interest of one’s nation.

Rohey Malick Lowe, Mayoress of Banjul at The Gambia @55 Independence celebrations

“The electorates should affiliate with the party that represents the national interest and ensure that we continue to live in peace and harmony in a cohesive democracy where our collective development aspirations can be fulfilled. Ethnic rivalry is dreadful; accordingly, I urge all of us to renew our commitment and pledge our firm allegiance to the nation because the Gambia belongs to all of us,” he said the independence celebration.

In his description, politics is not about the language people speak, or the ethnic group they are identified with, rather, it’s about the nation and its development for the future. 

“We all have the moral and civil obligations in safeguarding the future of this country, and remember, in the process, history will judge us sooner than later.” 

Political and legal freedom

The President has credited his government for creating space for all actors, indicating that democracy, good governance and rule of law have been achieved. According to him, this is highlighted by the political excitement that has gripped the nation, resulting in a series of useful dialogue across party discussions and by-partisan solidarity and collaborations. 

“Never have Gambians been given a space to participate so genuinely and passionately as witnessed recently on the draft constitution, the commissions, the presidency and the economy and other aspects of governance. 

“Never have the legislature been as independent, as opened, as free, as lively as it’s today. This is progress and it is political development,” President Barrow stated.

He finally announced that his government will introduce new development projects to create jobs, address sanity, advance technology and increase agricultural productivity in the country.  

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