By: Kebba AF Touray
The Association of non-Governmental Organisation is on a two-day dialogue on democracy between Civil Society Organisations and staff of the National Assembly.
And according to Mr. John Charles Njie, Chairperson of The Association of non-Governmental Organisation democracy is quite a painful, slow and sometimes very difficult process.
The gathering which commenced yesterday, was meant to widen the understanding of the works done by Civil Society actors and the National Assembly.
Mr. Njie said the 22-year dictatorship regime has patterned the mindsets of Gambians to the concept of making things overnight, but urged the members of the CSO to exercise a little more patience with the parliament in making sure that issues such as constitutional building come to fruition.
He said the engagement is key, and that CSOs need to know a lot about the roles and works of parliament, in fostering a stronger partnership between the two entities, adding that there is a lot that the CSOs need to understand about democracy and its processes.
“The parliament had a right to discuss the constitutional building process, but what they did not have the right to do actually is to reject it because what we want them to do is to disagree until you reach an agreement for a greater good. These things have come with a lot of advocacy, discussions and negotiations until everybody sees the bigger picture.
“Democracy is quite a painful, slow and sometimes very difficult process. I hope, with these days of engagement, we will be able to ask the hard questions as to why it is taking so long for some bills to be passed such as the Anti-Corruption Bill,” he said.
Mr Madi Jobarteh, the Country Director for Westminster Foundation for Democracy, said the interface aims to bring the members of the Civil Society Organisation and the parliament to exchange knowledge and expertise in strengthening the democratisation processes in the country.
“The interface also aims to strengthen good governance in the Gambia by enhancing accountability and transparency and making the two entities work even better. WDF is taking this training as a way to making the work between the entities more strategic, effective and results oriented,” he said
The seasoned human rights activist further stated that the interface will also accord participating members of the Civil Society Organization and the Parliament the opportunity to widen their knowledge, understanding and the works of both the parliament and the Civil Society Organization.
Mr Khalipha MM Mbaye, the Deputy Clerk Legal and Procedural Matters of the National Assembly, said that the roles of the CSOs and Legislature are very similar in ensuring accountability on government.
“The core mandates of the parliament are also to represent the people and the interests of the people and also holding the government to account,” he said.
He said that the CSOs holding parliament to account is significant as it allows them to adjust their and strengthen their processes and procedures to make sure that as the CSOs hold the parliament to account, the parliament may not be found wanting.
“Our works as parliamentary technicians are to make sure the elected representatives are guided in the execution of their core functions of lawmaking, oversight and representation,” he said.