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From its inception the AFPRC justified the military take-over on the grounds of widespread corruption, embezzelment of public funds and mismanagement on the part of the ertswhile government. Thus, in launching its Programme of Rectification and Transition to Democratic Constitutional Rule on the 24th October 1994, the Head of State, Captain Yaya A.J.J. Jammeh Stated that the rationale of the Coup d'etat of 22nd July, 1994 was "respond to the early warnings of a potential political turbulence emanating from social injustice and human rights violation inflicted upon the majority of Gambians for thirty years, by the ousted Government of the People's Progressive Party under the leadership of Alhagi Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara". He continued that "these malpractices were exacerbated by crime, drug trafficking and rampant corruption." The main thrust of the remedial measures will emphasise "compliance with the principles of accountability, transparency and probity".

Since democracy is predicated on the will of the citizens, our mandate clearly obligates us to consider the opinion of the people on the programme and timetable. The third element the NCC is enjoined to consider is the views of our development partners who have made over the years substantial contributions to our national development. due regard must be paid throughout the grievances, concerns and aspirations of the AFPRC if the NCC wishes its recommendations to have maximum impact on our future political evolution.

In concluding our report, it is most appropriate to highlight the enthusiastic welcome a large segment of the populance accorded the military in taking over the reins of power and absence of casualties during the coup of 22nd July: all of which are in accord with the Gambians' traditional love of peace and hatred of unnecessary blodshed. Many were pleased that what they percieved as three decades of self perpetuating rule by one political party was overturned. Others accorded legitimacy and even blessings to the coup once the on-going Commissions of Enquiry brought into focus the magnitude of the corruption and misappropriation of public funds under the old regime. However, in this contex it is difficult to discard the view of many serious members of the public that the ballot box is preferable to the army as an instrument of change of government in all circumstances, because of the potential of military rule lead to serious economic and social disaster.

Our extensive consultations with the people disclosed that some citizens do favour indefinite military rule. but it is clear that the majority of the people would opt for a democratic, civilian government after a reasonable transitional period. We were not mandated to and we never sought to conduct a referendum on the timetable. However our statistics show that most people we consulted favour a transition period of two years or less for return to civilian rule. some of the reasons given for shoosing a shorter period are:-

    - that The Gambia has for a long time been endowed with a good democratic and constitutional framework;

    - that there has been a long tradition of regular elections devoid of significant violence;

    - that the culture of human rights and rule of law have taken root in the country;

    - that countries like Mali which knew nothing of democracy and everything about despotism for decades succedded with a transition period of about fourteen months;

    - that the consquences of the withdrawal of donor support in its diverse forms will have serious effects on the countrie's economy with mass underemployment leading to social unrest.

The minority that clings to a transition period of four years or more hold the view:

    - that only a military government can properly supervise the investigation and punishment of corruption and misappropriation under the P.P.P. Government;

    - that if thirty years of what they perceive as being dictatorship under the Jawara regime was tolerable so are four years of military rule;

    - that the AFPRC needs time to instill probity in the people and cultivate a climate of accountability and transparency;

    - that The Gambia is a sovereign independent state that should not be dictated from outside.

Our Sub-committees covered the length and breadth of The Gambia to elicit the true opinions of the People. Everywhere emphasis was laid on the need to complete the work of the five Commissions of Enquiry into assets and properties, Government departments, public corporations, land administration and donated crude and refined oil before the AFPRC members return power to a civilian regime. Many speakers at our village meetings were extremely passionate, others vividly agitated when they recalled the huge ammounts of money alleged to have been embezzeled under the overthrown government. Many echoed the AFPRC's demand that every butut stolen must be recovered and that those found culpable be severely punished according to the law of the land if they fail to comply with the decisions of the Commissions. There appears to be no intention on the part of the bulk of the people to compromise on this issue.

We now have to dwell on the position of our development partners as directed in our terms of reference. It is common knowledge that a huge part of our terms of reference. It is common knowledge that a huge part of our economy depends on the donor community who provide loans, grants, advisory services and technical assistance. Some informed Gambians even believe that as of now the economy would rapidly collapse without outside aid. The development partners have made it abundantly clear that they consider a four year transition period too long. Contemporary international opinion favouring democracy,respect for human rights and the rule of law militates against support by donor community of military governments, eventhough admittedly where strong geo-political, financial or national interests warrant it, some donors have been known to continue their support for military regimes.

Be that as it may, however, The Gambia being very small and devoid of mineral resources or great strategic advantages stands no chance of being exempted from the treatment meted out to military regimes by donor community. Therefore the views of our partners in development are important. Our intelligent guess is that most donors have stipulated eighteen months from July 22nd as a reasonable period of transition. However, from our consultations with them it would appear some of them would be inclined to be flexible if a proposal backed by the peoples', views and our considered opinion called for a period not longer than two years.

In our consultations with the people we laid emphasis on the implication of the AFPRC's programme and timetable in constitutional, ethical and economic terms. We have dealth with the ethical and economic terms. We have dealth with the ethical aspect to some extent and the constitutional issues will be touched upon in our recommendations. But it is pertinent here to dwell briefly on some economic realities crying out for a shorter transitional timetable.

It is evident that the donor community in general has since the announcement of the timetable embarked on a gradual but steady isolation of the Gambia government as leverage for a change of direction. The result has been partial loss of budgetary support in the form of grants. Some European governments have advised their citizens against spending vacations in The Gambia. The consequence of the adverse donor response has been a downward trend in buisness confidence and activity, mass unemployment in the tourist industry and an increasingly unaffordable rise in the prices of essential commodities. Government, personal and corporate revenues have plunged and some observers fear a depletion of our national reserves and a sudden and continuing depreciation of the Dalasi. in reality, without the co-operation of our development partners our nation is presently incapable of sustaining a short term, severe socio-economic hardship the ultimate outcome of which is daunting to contemplate.

Having regard to its terms of reference the National Colsultative Committee recommends as follows:

  1. - that certain activities in the Programme of Rectification be considered supportive or ancillary to the essential ingredients of the Timetable for return to constitutional government. These include improving the administration of justice, reform of the local government system, restructuring of the security services, drug and crime control and the 22nd July Priority Projects. All of them have significant financial implications and should fall within the purview of succeeding civilian governments. However, it is recommended that the AFPRC should endeavour to achieve as much as it can of the activities in its Programme during its period in office;
  2. - that rather than include Civic education as a seperate component of the timetable it should be considered an on going process involving schools, non formal education programmes, the national radio and other information systems including the media;
  3. - that a referandum be excluded from the Programme because of the reasons given above and the heavy financial implications it will entail;
  4. - that great effort be excerted to ensure the completion of the Commissions of Enquiry within six months of their creation. It is most important to dispel fears that the choice of shorter period of transition is a ploy to circumvent the conclusion of the enquiries and implementation of their findings. Nothing we express here, however, can excuse the authorities concerned from adhering to rule of law in the course of their enquiries;
  5. - that the establishment of Constitutional Review Commission is wholeheartedly supported. It will be for this commission to suggest inter alia limitations on the presidential and parliamentary terms of office, the creation of new institutions, the incorporation of a bill of rights, ways of improoving the judicial structure, wether to have a bicameral parliament and what clauses to entrench;
  6. - that we are strongly of the opinion that the Constitution should provide for an Independent National Electoral Commission. This Commission should eventually be responsible for the fair and proper registration of voters, the determination of Constituency boundries and the supervision of elections;
  7. -that an ad hoc Electoral Review Committee be set up in tandem with the Commission in (V) above. this body will make recommendations aimed at eliminating electoral fraud. It is suggested that this ad hoc Committee should comprise lawyers, former supervisors of elections and polling officers as well as experianced politicians who are better plced to pinpoint the malpractices previously employed. It is very likely that the UN Center for Human Rights in Geneva would be happy to provide such a Committee with technical assistance;
  8. - that as already indicated the Constituent Assembly should be preferred to a Referendum as a means of giving validity to the Constitution. We therefore strongly subscribe to its creation at the appropriate time; and that the nature, constitution and mode of election of the Constituent Assembly be determined by the Constitutional Review Committee;
  9. - that the office of Ombudsman or similar institution be introduced in The Gambia. studies have already been carried out here and elswhere on this subject and no difficulty is likely to be encountered in getting expert assistance in this area from the Commonwealth Secretariat. The important thing to bear in mind here is that such an institution should be independent and not subject to government manipulation;
  10. - that since graft and fraud feature prominently in criticisms levelled against the former regime it is considered pertinent to make suggestions as to how to grapple with the problem. therefore a strong auditing system which is firmly and efficiently controlled at its apex should go a long way to minimise corruption in government. It would be useful for a study to be commissioned on how some successful nations utilize the audit system to ensure probity in public servants;
  11. - that any former politician or public officer found by any of the current Commissions of Enquiry to be guilty of corruption or dishonesty, be banned from offering himself as candidate in local, general or presidential elections for ten years. This should not be considered a vindictive measure but rather as a means of cleansing the body politic of the country;
  12. - the question of an Interim Government was discussed at length and it was decided that the matter be left to the discretion of the AFPRC within the framework of the recommended timetable of the NCC
  13. - having regard to our Terms of Reference and after careful delibrations on all the facts, circumstances and prospects of the nation we respectifully recommend a Timetable of two years starting from 22 july 1994 as an appropriate period of time for the transition to democratic civilian rule. The detailed steps in the implimentation process are shown in Annex VII.

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