As the tiny West African nation is emerging from the shadows of two-decade long dictatorship, a senior adviser at the Barcelona-based Institute for Integrated Transitions (IFIT), has warned Gambians to desist from being caught up in the euphoria that follows regime change, and which often leads to high expectations.
Speaking at the launching ceremony of the Gambia Transition Brain Trust (GTBT) held Thursday at Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi, about 12 km away from Banjul, Dr. Seth Kaplan said: “Whenever a country is in transition, expectations are extremely high.”
Gambians voted out ex-dictator Yahya Jammeh in December 2016, putting an end to his 22 years rule marked by continued clampdown on civic liberties, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings. Barrow’s government has vowed to right the wrongs of the past in addressing rising demands for justice while pushing ahead with a reconciliation agenda.
Dr.Kaplan said in many cases the reality will not meet the expectations, and he went further to call on Gambians not to let the hopes turn into disappointments.
To tackle these challenges, the Gambia Transition Brain Trust will be tapping into the robust expertise of the first non-governmental organisation with a special focus on an integrated approach to helping fragile and conflict affected areas to transition out of tyranny and into a state of peace and democracy.
“Change takes a lot of time: political culture needs to change; institutions needs to improve; and civil society needs to develop. People tend to think that once the ‘bad guy’ is out, everything will get better and quick,” he added.
IFIT Senior Adviser made it clear that freedom does not necessarily mean a straight line to progress, saying that these expectations are unrealistic, and need to be managed.
He then reminded the gathering that unmet expectations, unfulfilled expectations, disappointment, frustrations can lead to a backlash…
Speaking on behalf of the speaker of the National Assembly Speaker, Yaya Gassama, said all these issues are to be addressed.
As Gambians are enjoying a new democratic dispensation, the Kiang East parliamentarian emphasized the need for Gambians to reflect on the challenges in order to chart a way forward.
GTBT Coordinator, Juka Fatou Jabang, said they have inspired by IFIT to form an institution that will come up with analytical thinking about issues that are affecting the population
She expressed their intention to share their findings with government.
Jabang further stated that GTBT is comprised of a diverse and interdisciplinary group of practitioners, intellectuals, professionals from different fields.
“The group is independent, and non-partisan. We don’t belong to any party openly. We are autonomous,” she pointed out.
Written by Abdoulie JOHN in Banjul