Civil Society Group Poised To Revive Democratic Debates In Gambia

By Abdoulie John

As Gambians are recovering from 22-year of dictatorship by the Jammeh regime, the Forum for the Exchange of Ideas for Development (FOREID) has unveiled plans to hold series of public lectures and debates in the country. The founding initiators told a press conference on Wednesday at Gambia Press Union (GPU) headquarters in Fajara.

“Critical debates have been dormant in this country,” Dr. Omar Touray told journalists, urging the need to revive them.
The tiny West African nation is enjoying a new democratic dispensation, and the new authorities have vowed to right the wrongs of the past. Two decades of authoritarian regime have left Gambians deeply traumatised by the atrocities committed by Yahya Jammeh’s Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC). Ongoing issues continue to arise as Gambians push for unlimited democratic space and freedom.
As a panel of experts from a range of sectors, Dr. Omar Touray said FOREID will address issues that would help policy makers to be well informed.
In a similar vein, consultant Karim Touray made it clear that the topic they have chosen for the first public lecture is illustratrive of their willingness to provide the answers to questions Gambians are confronted with. He said FOREID has tasked itself with the responsibility to use various platforms, including radio stations, to promote democratic debates.
In an attempt to shed light on questions raised by journalists, Matarr Baldeh, a retired educationalist, said debates will be expanded to local languages with a view to compelling more Gambians to embrace the initiative.
For his part, National Assembly Member  (NAM) for Serekunda West Madi Ceesay reminded journalists that he also went through ‘hardship’ during the Jammeh regime. “I was arrested, tortured and detained,” he said, expressing Ceesay hope that FOREID will help victims to overcome their trauma in sharing their story.
FOREID’s first public lecture will be delivered on Saturday, July 8 from
5:15 to 7:35 PM by a renowned Gambian academic and activist, Professor
Abdoulaye Saine of the Department of Political Science, Miami University, Ohio, USA. The lecture, “Transition from Dictatorship to Good Governance; Which Way Gambian?,” will take place at the University of the Gambia Auditorium, Law Faculty Building along MDI Road.

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