Is President Adama Barrow the messiah Gambians have been waiting for? Is this Gambia’s new dawn? These are questions that will definitely take more than a few days or a few good reforms to answer.
Some things are, however, for sure, like the fact that Gambians have got the President that they voted for and the actions that President Adama Barrow took during his official inauguration ceremony on Saturday seem to be a step in the right direction for Gambia’s new dawn.
Adama Barrow’s official inauguration ceremony took place in Gambia at the Independence Stadium in Bakau, a town 20km from the capital Banjul, on Saturday. The President had priorly held a swearing in ceremony in Senegal in January when the country was struggling to oust Yahya Jammeh.
Speaking at the official inauguration in Gambia, President Barrow had reversed one of the miscarriages of justice that had taken place under the reign of Yahya Jammeh. The new President announced during the ceremony that “Orders have already been given for all those detained without trial to be released.”
It was a move that kept to his commitment to ending human rights abuses in the country. Gambia is no stranger to human rights abuses under the rule of Yahya Jammeh. Yahya Jammeh was quick to silence opposition voices and dissenters and news of disappeared individuals or unjustly detained persons were not uncommon while his Presidency lasted.
With the edict of President Yahya Jammeh, a total of 171 inmates in the tiny West African nation’s notorious 2 Mile Prison, who were jailed without trial during Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year rule, were set free.
President Barrow’s move to reverse the status of the 171 inmates who were jailed without a trial is not the only thing that makes it believable that this may actually turn out to be Gambia’s new dawn. He has also pledged to reverse Jammeh’s repressive policies, to keep The Gambia in the International Criminal Court and to rejoin the Commonwealth.
During Saturday’s ceremony, he further said that his government will undertake key constitutional and legal reforms and announced that he would highlight them in his first address to the National Assembly. In his words;
“It [the legal reform] intends to enforce constitutional provisions that are entrenched to protect the fundamental rights of the citizen.”
He further called to mind the issue of disappeared citizens, saying that the attorney general and minister of justice will receive information regarding all those who went missing. “An appropriate commission will be established to conduct inquiries into their disappearances.”
After winning the elections, President Adama Barrow had promised that his government would establish a truth and reconciliation commission for the Gambia.
Truth and reconciliation commissions have historically been used in countries around the world to try to make up for grave ills that a portion of society has undergone. In post-Apartheid South Africa, for instance, the truth and reconciliation commission was intended to be a restorative vehicle that would help black South Africans find justice.
If President Adama Barrow keeps to his promises on this and other counts, Gambia’s new dawn will not be a thing that will have to be guessed at.