By Aja Musu Bah-Daffeh

High power delegation of United Nations [UN] officials on Thursday 30th March, 2017 visited the country and had a meeting with President  Adama Barrow and his Executive Ministers at the Gambia Airport.

Speaking to the press, Madam Halen Clark, the Executive Director of United Nations Development Program [UNDP] and also the Former New Zealand Prime Minister acknowledged that her visit to The Gambia as the Head of the United Nations Development System is to extend full support to the newly elected government of The Gambia.

She noted that there are many challenges for the government which she added is the trust, the economy and focusing on how they can address the poverty and the needs of the people of The Gambia. She noted that it has a big programme of constitutional, legislative, judicial, security sector reforms and it’s moving positively on human rights.

Director Clark noted that it is a big programme, thus UNDP leading the development system will extend support to the transition government. She said UNDP has a lot of experience in straightening government institutions and they need to engage with the government and partners to what could be supported, noting that in 1990’s The Gambia had a good public service but it has gradually depleted over the years, so there would be need to support for the capacity of the government.

Madam Clark emphasised the need for reconciliation in the country, noting that the elections will produce a new parliament and the parliament will have representatives from the various constituencies. She pointed out that it therefore needs political dialogue which she said will be an important step. She asserted that with time Gambia will come to terms with the past, adding that there are some difficult things to do based on the disappearances, deaths and custodies, detentions, maltreatments of people who stood up to protest including the shocking things that happened last year.

Halen stated that it is positive for The Gambia to return back to ICC and the Commonwealth noting that it is welcoming that Gambia be back fully as a participating member of ECOWAS. She added that she had met with four of the senior ECOWAS Presidents and they all sat to see the transition in the Gambia and the Gambia coming fully in the original family.

Continuing, she said Gambian women need the same opportunities as everyone else and they also need ways to be able to develop their micro business in terms of agriculture including other areas. ‘’We have been doing a lot on gender and the legislation was passed last year against FGM and child marriage because it is important that activist sensitize within communities so that the message goes out strongly as the girl child deserves to finish school and have choice over their life’’ said the UNDP Executive Director.

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