Accepting TRRC Recommendations Without Implementation Is As Good As Rejecting Them – Former GAMSU Leader

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Omar Joof, Former Student Leader

Omar Joof, former president of Gambia Students Union (GAMSU), has said that accepting the recommendations of the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) by the government without implementing them is as good as rejecting them.

He said many victims of the atrocities meted out to them by the former regime have been eagerly waiting for closure, to no avail.

Joof’s statement comes amidst growing calls for the Gambia government to implement the TRRC recommendations, which it accepted to implement since publishing its 25 May White Paper.

“At face value, the government’s acceptance of almost all recommendations from the TRRC is impressive, but accepting them and not implementing them is as bad as rejecting them off-hand.

“Some victims are still suffering from the impacts of life-changing injuries, and for such persons, even a day-long delay in implementation is unacceptable,” Joof added.

He continued: “Some of the recommendations, like going after some perpetrators, without doubt, will have political repercussions.

“President Barrow is so obsessed with his political self-perpetuation, and we cannot see him ruffling certain feathers that will convince us that he and his government are ready to implement the TRRC recommendations.”

Joof, who led the year 2000 students’ protest against the state, said if President Adama Barrow had stuck with the three-year mandate of the Coalition and focused on rectification, a lot could have been attained.

However, he went on: “Because of President Barrow’s hunger for power, he failed to honor the Coalition agreement that eventually saw the Gambian train wreck its journey to democratic governance.

“You talk about pace when something is being done. But, as I have stated above, this is a train wreck. The cargo ain’t going anywhere! So indeed, the way forward is to implement the recommendations of the TRRC as accepted by the government.

“However, we have not seen anything which can be regarded as an indication that the Barrow administration means to do something.

“We are positive that as long as President Barrow is in office, very little if at all (of the TRRC recommendations) will be implemented. That means just staying in the wilderness for at least four years! There is no alternative but to continue the struggle.”

The ex-student leader also raised doubts about the proceedings of the TRRC. He said at some point, it looked like a court where people went to showcase their “lawyering” to defend themselves.

He argued that this was just the wrong position regarding reconciliation, which required perpetrators to show some remorse.

“The process was open and fair enough for the commission to attain its goals. However, the report seems to have concentrated more on what to do with certain perpetrators. Still, when it comes to what to do about the plight of the victims, it has not gone far enough,” Joof lamented.

“We were expecting people like brothers Yusupha Mbye et al. to have been recommended for immediate academic assistance, to remedy their inabilities to pursue professional interests mainly due to dictatorship ill-will.”

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