UN Under-Secretary General meets President Barrow

By Kebba Jeffang

Mr. Jeffrey Feltman, the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs said the United Nations could support the Gambia but only if the global body is guided by government’s national strategic vision as UN does not have ready-made solutions to impose on the member states.

The delegation of Mr Feltman comprised Mr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel and the UN Country Representative.

He was speaking to journalists on Wednesday, March 01, at a press conference after holding closed door talks with President Adama Barrow at Kairaba Beach Hotel.

He said the United Nations have a lot of admiration for the peaceful process during the entire political crisis in the country thanks to the Gambian people, civil society organizations and the political leaders. He said he has the opportunity to hold a meeting with the Gambian president on behalf of the Secretary General of United Nations to show to him the UN’s appreciation of the peaceful manner the process was done. He said they discussed UN’s commitment to supporting the government and people of the Gambia in moving forward. He said the words of the President inspired them which are ‘one Gambia’ and ‘one people.’

“But there are challenges ahead in terms of respect for human rights, national reconciliation and in terms of involving youths and women at all levels of governance. These challenges are obviously enormous but the United Nations is committed to being a partner with the government and the people of The Gambia in going forward,” he said.

“We also recognise that there is legislative election very soon for the National Assembly and I have the opportunity to meet with Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission this morning (Wednesday) as well as the members of his delegation and reiterate our support in the electoral process,” he said.

He said he also met with the representatives of the civil society organisations, trade unions and youth representatives to get a fuller picture of the transition and the expectations.

Mr. Feltman said the president has shared with him their efforts to strengthen the rule of law and issues of human rights to strengthen the role of the judiciary. He said the expectations from people are quite high with other enormous tasks which are clear to him at the brief he had with stakeholders. He said it is very important for the government to be clear on its vision to the people.

He said a lot of development will take time to resolve considering the 22 years rule for Jammeh but urged for human rights protection and justice to prevail as well as national reconciliation.

“UN will be guided first and foremost by what the government itself wants us to do. The UN does not have a ready-made solution which try to impose from outside. The UN is guided by the partnership by the national government and that’s how UN works world-wide, wherever it is. We work with the consent of the local authorities and the local people so that we will be guided first and foremost by the government itself to see if it is an appropriate role for the United Nations. “

He said one of the things that are important is for the government to use its own strategic vision to guide the United Nations as donors into where they would like to see the UN to be involved.

“And I could see us playing an important role for example in helping The Gambia in donor coordination to have many donors if the government would request that,” he said.