By Awa B. Bah

The President of the ECOWAS Commission and the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, pledged to continue their support in the implementation of the National Development Plan and called on the people of The Gambia, to fully participate in security sector reforms and transitional justice and regional integration in West Africa.

The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNOWAS Mohamed Ibn Chambas made the joint call, as they conclude a three-day joint visit to The Gambia on 13th July 2018. The two were in the country with the objective of renewing the engagement of their two organizations in their support to the authorities and people of The Gambia, in their efforts towards sustaining peace.

Both were received in audience by President Barrow and Vice President Darboe, during their visit. They also called on the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, the Minister of Trade, Regional Integration, Industry and Employment, and met with representatives of the diplomatic corps, international organizations, ECOMIG and civil society organizations.

Shortly before their departure, the two leaders jointly briefed the press about their mission in Banjul. Jean-Claude Kassi Brou said their mission on behalf of ECOWAS, was to continue the dialogue with Gambian authorities who have have been going through challenging moments recently; that with the support of ECOWAS, the UN and other partners, there is progress in various areas of the country. He commended Gambian authorities for their efforts in pushing the development agenda of the country. Kassi-Brou said part of their mission was to reinforce dialogue on key issues such as reform of the security sector; that ECOWAS supports the security of the country with local security forces through the ECOMIG mission; that they have tabled issues relating to transitional justice which according to him, will continue to strengthen the cohesiveness of the sector. He said the issuing of Bio Metric Identity cards is key because ECOWAS is promoting the issuing of biometric identity cards for security reasons; that many countries within ECOWAS, have the biometric identity cards and were pleased to see that the authorities in the Gambia are in line with this development.

On trade, Kassi-Brou said they have discussed trade issues which is very key under ECOWAS; that they have sighted a very strong engagement from Gambian authorities in moving key sectors at all levels as manifested in the launching of the ECOWAS Regional Competition Authority (ERCA) Headquarters in Bijilo. ERCA he said, is a central instrument that promotes trade, capital flows and private investment within the ECOWAS member states. He commended the Gambia for accepting to host ERCA.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head UNOWAS Mohamed Ibn Chambas, said that they are in the Gambia to underscore and join the work of ECOWAS in the Gambia with joint approaches and perspectives in all the areas of ECOWAS interventions such as security reforms, truth, justice and reconciliation development. He recalled the just concluded Brussels conference for the Gambia relating to how to continue support the country. He highlighted their interactions with civil society during their visit and renewed their support for the new Gambia in building new democratic institutions; that ECOWAS and the UN are on the side of the Gambia people as they strive to build a new Gambia, based on democracy and the rule of law, with emphasis on the urgent development needs of her people.

Meanwhile President Adama Barrow inaugurated the ECOWAS Regional Competition Authority Headquarters, ERCA, in Bijilo. Commission President Kassi-Brou and UNOWAS head Ibn Chambas, underlined the importance of safeguarding the progress achieved so far, and encouraged all Gambians to work hand in hand and consolidate the peace in order to bring about prosperity to the country.

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