Participants at the closing of the Gambia Governance Reform Activity at Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre in Bijilo on 29th June 202
By Buba Gagigo
The Gambia Governance Reform Activity (GGRA) came to an end at Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre in Bijilo on Wednesday.
The closing ceremony was attended by the U.S. Ambassador, the International Republican Institute (IRI), IFES, National Assembly Members, among others.
“The United States have been proud to partner with the people of Gambia, as this nation strives to strengthen its Democracy in the wake of the historic event of 2016. USAID’s Gambia Governance Reform Activity (GGRA) was specifically designed to help the nation transition from authoritarian rule to truly free society. Over the past three years, the US government through USAID and its partners, the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) supported the efforts of the Gambian leaders in government and civil society to move key Democratic reforms forward,” the US Ambassador to The Gambia Sharol L. Cromer said.
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The Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Alieu Momarr Njai said the commission has successfully implemented various major activities during the electoral cycle with the intervention of the GGRA project.
“I can for sure say that the project positively impacted on The Gambia’s electoral process in the on-going electoral cycle 2021 to 2023. The Commission successfully implemented various major activities during the electoral cycle. These include the general registration of voters in the 2021 Presidential Election and National Assembly Elections in 2022. Interventions from the GGRA project through IFES contributed to these successes,” he said.
On behalf of the deputy speaker of the National Assembly, Abdoulie Ceesay, the deputy majority leader, thanked USAID and the US Embassy for their support to The Gambia over the years.
Honourable Ceesay said with the support of these groups, they have strengthened the following in the area of Legislative.
“Partnership initiated by IRI between the U.S. Congress House Democracy Partnership and the National Assembly led to a Congressional Delegation in 2019 and follow-up trainings by congressional staffers and former members of Congress on budgeting and constituent outreach; training by IRI of the all 58 National Assembly members increased their fulfilment of their legislative responsibilities, and understanding of media freedoms, anti-corruption, budgeting disability rights, strategic communications, bill drafting, and audit reviews
“IRI trained the committees on Defence and Security, Education, Finance and Public Accounts (FPAC), Public Enterprises (PEC), Monitoring of Government Projects, Local Government, Human Rights and Constitutional Matters, and Tourism, Youth and Sports on the Standing Orders, bill review, holding hearings, record keeping, citizen engagement, and budgeting. These trainings have led to the more effective scrutinisation of bills sent from the executive and contributed to breaking the routine rubberstamp practices of the legislature,” honourable Ceesay said.
The deputy majority leader added that with IRI support, the West Coast Region and Upper River Region caucuses developed and implemented strategic plans, leading to the organization of 31 constituency town haIls.
He said IRI also initiated the creation of the Parliamentary Women’s Caucus after training on gender-responsive budgeting.