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Learn Lessons from TRRC and Catch Up With the World,’ Maada Bio tells Gambia

The President of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio urged Gambians to consider the Truth, Reparations and Reconciliation Commission (TRRC) as a learning point and then move on to catch up with the rest of the world.

He was speaking at a joint press conference with President Adama Barrow Wednesday at State House in Banjul.

Though the Sierra Leonean leader hailed the commission as a good process, he advised that it shouldn’t be meant for opening up old wounds. Instead, he added, it should be seen as an opportunity to bring out certain lessons to learn in order to avoid a repeat of the past.

“I think the most important thing is that The Gambia should make effort to catch up with the rest of the world, like Sierra Leone. We know we are lagging behind but we cannot sit and rumble about the past. We are now making efforts to move ahead by learning from the past.”

It would be recalled that after Sierra Leone’s civil war, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was set up to hear cases of human rights violations and provide a forum for both victims and perpetrators, as well as recommend policies to facilitate reconciliation and prevent future violations.

“I think we’ve had different experiences and it is always good to use the experiences as a way to chart the future. We decided to have the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and people took part in that. I was there myself. The recommendations have been properly documented and being used as a guide to develop Sierra Leone,” he said.

President Bio told journalists that the Human Rights Commission and the Anti-Corruption Commission in Sierra Leone were established by the recommendation of TRC.

However, Sierra Leone’s main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) accused President Bio and his administration of repeating some of the issues that were singled out by the TRC as causes of the civil war in the country. The accusations range from abuse of power and intimidation to violation of human rights.

                          Presidents Julius Maada Bio and Adama Barrow at State House

President Adama Barrow also spoke about learning from the past and emphasized the need to learn from Sierra Leone, South Africa and Rwanda. “After a bitter war, they were able to reconcile and move on. I think we have a lot to learn. I think this is the only way we can take this country forward,” he said.

Africa’s representation in UNSC

On international politics, the Gambian leader called for reforms at the UN Security Council to accommodate African representation.

UNSC is the highest decision-making body of the United Nations and its only five permanent members are the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China.

“That is a message which is clear and it was even part of my speech at the General Assembly of the United Nations. Reforming the Security Council is what we are calling for. We are calling for equality. We want Africa to be recognized. We want Africa to be given position as far as the Security Council is concerned, for accountability, transparency and fairness. This is the message from Africa and everybody is on board,” President Barrow said.

Gambia’s interest in Sierra Leone

Barrow cited Sierra Leone’s natural resources The Gambia could tap. He also said he discussed bilateral ties on trade and education with his counterpart.

President Bio praised the Gambia’s reputation as a favourite destination for tourists, and said Sierra Leone has a lot to learn in terms of boosting its tourism sector.

Presidents Maada Bio and Adama Barrow photo credit: State House Gambia

The two leaders also listed fisheries and governance as possible areas of bilateral ties between their two countries.

The Gambia and Sierra Leone have had over three hundred years of bilateral relationship which the two leaders vowed to consolidate.

President Bio arrived in The Gambia Tuesday as President Barrow’s special guest on the occasion of the 54th independence anniversary.

 

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