President Adama Barrow is welcoming ‘sincere’ criticism towards his government as his new administration sets out return the Gambia to normalcy after decades of dictatorship.
“His Excellency, the President welcomes sincere comments from the public on issues of concern as this is what is expected in a democracy,” said Press Secretary Amie Bojang-Sissohore.
It is very uncommon for African leaders to openly welcome criticism towards their government. Barrow during his first meeting with his cabinet resolved to defend dissenting cabinet members.
Barrow declined to sign a bill, which was seeking to amend the constitution and remove a discriminatory upper age limit, after the public said the process was unconstitutional.
Barrow, 52, is already facing strong criticism about his administration’s approach to some key economic and social justice issues. He has inherited weak institutions, which need reforms to function as required.
“We will be crossing one bridge at a time,” says Barrow, who is working to unite the politically divided nation.
“Gambians have removed a dictator who has been entrenched for 22 years. We must overcome our differences and focus on our common agenda,” he said.
“We all have our strengths and weaknesses but together we are stronger. If we have unity of purpose then we can overcome our differences and leave a positive legacy.”
Clashes broke out between supporters of the former President Yahya Jammeh and those of Barrow’s party, from which he resigned to lead the unity government in southern Gambia.
Police have arrested dozens of people, especially in the Foni region, an opposition stronghold where former dictator Jammeh enjoys much support.
Jammeh arrested critics, political opponents, journalists, rights defenders and his perceived enemies. Barrow has pledged to appoint a truth commission to investigate allegations of human rights abuses during Jammeh’s reign.