The National Assembly member for Serre Kunda, Halifa Sallah, is still on his UK trip and his first engagement with UK Parliamentarians after a dialogue with the Gambian
community during the weekend, started with a meeting at the House of Lords, with a former Minister under the then Labour Government and now Senior Deputy Speaker at the House of Lords, Rt. Hon. Lord John McFall. Halifa explained the democratic wind of change that is blowing over West Africa, which he said is the region to watch because of the adoption of term limits by almost all members of ECOWAS; that both Togo and Gambia are in the process of carrying out constitutional reforms to make West Africa the first region to do away with self-perpetuating rule. He also told British parliamentarians that the UK foreign policy needs to articulate how the country will deal with the African, Caribbean and Pacific states, in case ‘Brexit’ becomes finalized.
The Deputy speaker took note of the views expressed by Mr. Sallah and explained his activities in Africa while he was a Member of Parliament. He explained his independent and impartial role as Senior Deputy Speaker but encouraged the visiting Serre Kunda NAM, to continue to build deeper ties with other parliamentarians to explain the new developments that could foster better ties.
Halifa also held meetings with representatives of the West Minster Foundation and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK, and Hon. Ian Murray, a Member of the UK Parliament. He explained the Gambian Consensus, which gave rise to the democratic change of Government through the ballot box, for the first time in Gambian history as an independent nation. He emphasized that the country is now going through a transition that should give rise to conscious and sovereign Gambian citizens, constitutional, institutional and normative reforms in all the service sectors of the country, civil or security, which should culminate in building a country that upholds democracy, good governance, rule of law, due process, justice and respect for fundamental human rights. He explained the need for visibility of the country and its institutions so that the state and people, would aim for the best practices in managing the affairs of their country and co- exist in peace and dignity, despite political differences.
He said that visibility, which should be promoted by international co-operation, should be underpinned by capacity building.
On a final note, the visiting Serre Kunda NAM, emphasized that capacity building should finally lead to the proper operation of institutions to implement efficient and effective services, which would positively impact on the lives of the people who yearned for liberty and prosperity. Halifa encouraged the UK branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and MPs, to argue on a fast track approach to admitting countries with new leaders to the Commonwealth, after their willful withdrawal by a previous Government, so that it would not appear that a new Government is under sanction. He was assured that such a debate is in the UK Parliamentary space.
Halifa was informed of all the goodwill gestures extended to the Gambia and demonstration was also shown of the preparedness to cooperate and collaborate, in order to promote the best interest of both countries.
On his second engagement at Westminster House of Parliament, Halifa was received by Ollie Hall, Programme Officer of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, UK. He held a briefing session with Mr. John Davies, Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK, and Ms. Susie Latta, Head of International Outreach. He was then taken on a conducted tour of The House of Commons and The House of Lords that lasted for over one hour. Halifa was finally invited to observe the proceedings of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, to end the day’s engagements.
He witnessed the posing of oral questions answered by the British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, regarding his recent discussion with representatives from the other UN Security Council member states, on the protection of civilians in Libya; the steps his department is taking to support British citizens in overseas territories and other countries recently affected by severe hurricanes in the Caribbean and on what representation he has made to his Myanmar counterpart, on the treatment of the Rohingya people.