G/Bissau Speaker makes historic N/Assembly address in Gambia
The visiting Speaker of the National People’s Assembly of the Republic of Guinea Bissau Wednesday made a historic address at the National Assembly of The Gambia, becoming the first foreign parliamentary chief to do so in Banjul.
Hon. Speaker Engenheiro Cipriano Cassama’s address was listened to by his Gambian counterpart, Hon. Abdoulie Bojang; National Assembly members of both countries; as well as the minister of Transport, Works and Infrastructure and National Assembly Matters, Balla Garba Jahumpa.
The Bissau-Guinean Assembly chief used his address to highlight the historical, cultural and political ties that bind the two countries. He hastened to heap praises on President Jammeh and his government for the support rendered to the former Portuguese colony during and after the political transition that was ushered in by a coup in 2012. He said the political history of the two countries have been deepened by the strong friendship that exists between its two peoples.
“More recently, when the political and military crisis hit our country, in 2012, it was thanks to His Excellency the president of The Gambia, Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh that senior military officers, political leaders, representatives of the Civil Society of Guinea-Bissau met here in Banjul, the initial commitments to lay the foundations for a peaceful political transition. The Guinean people do not forget this gesture of friendship and of solidarity and the high sense of state that came from the president of the Gambia, and from this podium I want to thank you very much Your Excellency,” Hon. Cassama said of Jammeh.
The visiting Speaker vowed that he would do everything humanly possible in his capacity to strengthen the institutional solidarity between their parliaments, while at the same time promote friendship among their members.
He informed of their plans to establish a Guinea-Bissau-The Gambia Group of Friendship, which will be made up of parliament members, representatives of the people and the political parties with parliamentary seats. This Group, he explained, will be tasked to promote the exchange of experience between the two parliaments with the aim of strengthening a closer relationship.
“Peace, political and institutional stability continue to represent for us Guineans a great political and moral challenge,” he said. “I want to say that we should not slow down our efforts for the consolidation of peace which is still shaky, but also to strengthen our public institutions- which are too weak”.
The Bissau parliamentary Speaker also disclosed plans to stage what he called a national reconciliation conference in that country under the guardianship of the Guinean Parliament, and with the sponsorship of the president of the Republic.
“We want to convene this conference this year or latest during the first three months of the next year. The parliament of my country will invite Gambian parliamentarians to take part in this national conference and we count on the strong support of your parliament in this regard. I did not come to Banjul for an inter-parliamentary work session, I am here as a messenger of a strong friendship of the people of Guinea-Bissau to the brotherly people of The Gambia,” he said.
Hon. Gassama further asserted that the two countries are both members of Ecowas and have shared many things in common; ranging from geographical space, cultural backgrounds and their plural ethnic identity. These factors, he said, have contributed greatly to the important migratory flow and more intense and diversified commercial exchanges.
“The Gambia is less than 200 kilometers from Bissau, so the circulation between our two countries is physically very accessible for our two people. But this accessibility could be improved greatly with the political will of our two states, because in spite of the existence of the rule of free circulation of peoples and goods within the ECOWAS space, we have many difficulties to overcome. Many hindrances persist in our roads yet, and this does not help the commercial and cultural growth that is desired between our two countries and peoples. I think such hindrances should be overcome,” he suggested.
Hon. Gassama concluded by thanking The Gambian counterparts for the invitation extended to him and his delegation, expressing hope that it will open a new leaf of friendship and cooperation between the two sides.” I would also like to express my gratitude to my dear friend Speaker Abdoulie Bojang for the warm welcome accorded me and my delegation, which represents the strong traditional Gambian hospitality,” he concluded.
Shortly after delivering his statement, a Memorandum of Understanding on technical cooperation between the two National Assemblies was signed, before the visiting delegation toured the new National Assembly complex, which is on its final stage of construction.