By Awa B. Bah
Members of the National Assembly on Wednesday reactivated the Inter-Parliamentary friendship between the National assembly of the Gambia and the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.
It may be recalled that there was an Inter-Parliamentary friendship between the two National Assemblies during the previous regime of the former Government of Yahya Jammeh, which has been dormant for five years.
The Majority Leader and National Assembly Member for Kombo South Hon. Kebba K. Barrow, on Wednesday moved a motion for consideration and adoption of the reactivation of this Inter-Parliamentary friendship between the National Assemblies of the two countries.
In moving the motion, Hon. Barrow said it seeks to reactivate the Inter-Parliamentary friendship and make it more vibrant to represent the interest of the two National Assemblies, through the already existing cordial relationship between the two countries; that with the reactivation of this Inter-Parliamentary friendship, the two Legislatures shall enhance pragmatic cooperation and render support to each other on key areas such as development cooperation, legislative support, expertise, governance, technical assistance and people-to-people relation among others.
The two countries he said, have been great friends since independence and have mutually cooperated on all sectors of their economies such as agriculture, technical assistance, ICT, infrastructure and tourism; that the two legislatures therefore should be poised to provide the much needed legal and policy support to each other to enhance the pragmatic cooperation that already exists between the two peoples.
Hon. Barrow noted that both countries have continued to showcase the political and mutual trust, economic and trade cooperation as well as people-to-people exchange programmes in recognition of the great importance Turkey attaches to its relations with the Gambia.
He said Turkey has supported the country’s development agenda to improve people’s welfare and promote sustainable development through TIKA and other development agencies; that the relation between the two legislatures are an important part of the bilateral ties between the two countries.
Hon. Barrow said the Grand National Assembly of Turkey is willing to work with the National Assembly of the Gambia to contribute to the development of the already existing bilateral and cooperative ties.
‘‘The mandate of the friendship, is to foster Inter-Parliamentary relations and to further contribute to the development of the bilateral and cooperative relations between our two peoples and shall serve as the linkage between the two legislatures on all cooperation and support,’’ the Hon. Member said.
Hon. Barrow asserted that the Inter-Parliamentary Friendship group shall consist of a chairperson and eight other members and that the membership to the committee shall be nominated by the Selection Committee of the National Assembly.
He urged his fellow members to consider and adopt the motion for the reactivation of the friendship between the two National Assemblies.
The Member for Serre kunda, Halifa Sallah, in his contribution to the motion, asserted that the text informs them that there was already an existing friendship between the National Assembly of the Gambia and The Grand National Assembly of Turkey which he observed was dormant for five years; that there was no reason advanced on why that friendship was not active during the 4th Legislature. The Member for Serre Kunda stated that Friendship groups must be well defined to serve the objective of the Legislature and that whosoever the National Assembly builds relationship with, should be helping them to build their capacities.
Sidia Jatta, National Assembly Member for Wuli West in his contribution called for the dissolution of the Committee and propose the selection of new members.
The member for Lower Baddibu Alagie Jawara, said for history to be on their side, they need to be very careful; that as national assembly members, they cannot just agree on building inter-parliamentary friendship groups without going through the document to understand what it takes; that they cannot take such decisions like that, because the social auditors will audit them in the future.
That for them to avoid mistakes, Hon. Jawara said they need to take time and familiarise themselves with the history of Turkey and their foreign policies; that they want to be friends with all the countries.
“Less than thirty minutes you are given a document to read and agree,” he said. The Hon. Member eventually disassociated himself from the motion.
Other Members welcomed the motion while some called for the ‘‘smoothening of the rough edges’’ between the National Assembly of the Gambia and that of Turkey. They asserted that the national assembly of the Gambia will not dance to the dictates of a superpower country and they further called for the consideration of the importance Turkey attaches to the Gambia, noting that the reactivation of the group, is timely as it will further consolidate bilateral ties and cooperation for mutual benefits. They cited the recent intervention by Turkey towards flood victims.
The mover of the motion and member for Kombo South, who is also the Majority Leader in the National Assembly, thanked his colleagues for their comments and recommendations on the motion.
He said the present National Assembly is with a difference and that the members of the previous committee were only five and were very much occupied.
The motion was finally resolved and adopted.