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Fellow Gambians,

On the 27th of January, I formally received the report of the National Consultative committee. I described the event as another major step forward in the implementation of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council's Programme and Timetable for return to civilian rule. Two further steps of even greater significance have since been taken. Both the Council and the cabinet have now considered the report.

On the occasion of the launching of the Programme and Timetable, on the 24th of October, 1994, I promised that they were subject to your views. A few of you expressed your views in the papers and in other ways, but the overwhelming majority of you did not publicly express your views.

On the 13th of December, 1994, the now familiar National Consultative Committee was commissioned to sound your opinion, nationwide. I have already expressed my thanks and appreciation, and those of Council, for your willing and patriotic participation in the important consultations carried out by the Committee. I seize this opportunity to thank you once more.

In fairness to both you, the people of The Gambia, and to the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council, the National Consultative Committee highlighted thew enthusiastic welcome you accorded to the bloodless military takeover, and your happiness that "three decades of self-perpetuating rule by one political party was overturned". The Committee found that you " accorded legitimacy and even blessings to the coup."

The Committee also recognized the need to protect you, the people, and the nation, against the exploitation and manipulation you suffered during the past thirty years. The need for civic education provided for in Council's programme is endorsed in the report, and so are the proposed constitutional and electoral reviews. the committee was also in accord with the proposed review of constituency boundaries, and the voters registration system. The proposal to establish an Independent Electoral Commission is strongly endorsed in the report as long overdue.

The report also reflects the emphasis you place on the need to complete the work of the five Commissions of Inquiry into public officers´ assets, Government Departments, Public Cooperations, land administration and donated crude, and refined oil. Many speakers at the Committee's village meetings are said to have been "extremely passionate, and others wildly agitated, when echoing the Council's demand that "every butut stolen from Government be recovered."

At the same time, however, you held divergent views as far as the duration of the transition period was concerned. This particular issue is equally important and I will come back to it later in this broadcast.

In the meantime, I now turn to what the Committee had to say about our development partners. The report rightly reflects the fact that our development partners had applied limited economic scantions against The Gambia in immediate response to the military takeover. They had also, following the announcement of the four-year timetable, applied further sanctions in the form of a "travel advice" against vacation in The Gambia, resulting in massive redundancies in the tourist sector, and considerable loss of revenue otherwise due to Government. This resulted in the closure of virtually all the hotels, thereby causing considerable hardship for many of you. It was a matter of great regret that while the intricate and time-consuming arrangements were being made to set up the Commissions, prepare the transition Programme and Timetable, and carry out the national consultations, our development partners unilaterally decided that the proposed four-year transition period was too long and imposed the said sanctions which caused so much hardship. The Committee cannot be blamed for concluding that this under served punitive measure is merely because The Gambia is devoid of natural resources and strategic importance.

In order to protect the tourist industry, considerable effort was made by the Ministry of Information and Tourism to attract tourists from other European Countries. Interested tour operators visited The Gambia and expressed their intention to bring in tourists next season. In the meantime, a small number of tourists continued to come from the traditional catchment areas, aminly in Britain, thanks to understanding and cooperation of the tour operators "The Gambia Experience" who declined to join the apparent boycott. this encouraging gesture at the time of the critical and unexpected economic situation described earlier, was, and still is, deeply appreciated.

While determined efforts were being made to protect the tourist industry, the various transition activities I have just referred to were going on simultaneously. The outcome of this two-prong approach has been a successful one. In addition to the prospects of additional tour operators, and the withdrawal of the Swedish "travel advice", the National Consultative Committee concluded its work and submitted its report.

Many of the Committee's recommendations tally with the provisions and activities in Council's Programme and Timetable. The main exceptions are the idea of forming an Interim Government, and the advice to hold no referendum.

There already exists an Interim Government with a large civilian majority of two to one, and there is no logical reason for forming a new one.

As for the holding of a referendum, a number of clauses in the Gambia Constitution still in force, call for a referendum before major amendments are made. The introduction of a new Constitution would, therefore, make a referendum even more desirable. Furthermore, no Constitution should, therefore, be voted upon in a referendum.

The main issue on which the National Consultative Committee was created to advise was the duration of the transition period. In this regard the Committee recommended a period of two years with effect from 22nd July, 1994. I am pleased to inform you that having carefully considered the Committee's observations and recommendations, and taking into account all the prevailing circumstances and, in particular, your best interests, Council and Cabinet have accepted this recommendation.

Fellow Gambians,

With the issue of the Timetable finally behind us, we should now turn our attention , wholly, to national unity, and to the formidable task of developing the motherland. There are a number of priority development projects in our programme. The most urgent ones, include the augmentation of the generating capacity at Kotu Power Station. There are also a few road and school building projects. Something should also be done for the peasant farmers and the youths. The transition activities such as the Commissions, the various reviews, registration of voters, General and Presidential Elections are also there.

I appeal to all of you to play your part in the national effort to achieve these objectives.

I also appeal again to the international community, as I did at our New Year meeting, to resume their normal, positive role as development partners. There is a lot of work to be done during the short transition period, and the immediate assistance and advice of our development partners would facilitate and enhance rapid progress.

I thank you for your attention.

God bless you!

Long Live the Second Republic!



In the first place, I would like to thank His Excellency The Chairman of the AFPRC and Head of State as well as Members of the AFPRC for entrusting to us this important and delicate assignment. On behalf of all the members of the NCC, I would also like to convey deep appreciation to the Gambian people and our development partners for expressing their views and recommendations on such an important National issue.

My task as Chairman, was made easier by the diligence and cooperation of all the members of the Committee. I thank them.

Last but not the least, i wish to congratulate the Secretary of the Committee who was able to combine satisfactorily, the work of the Committee with his regular official duties.

Dr. Lenrie Peters
27TH JANUARY, 1995


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