Less than one year after democracy was restored to The Gambia, Westminster Foundation for Democracy and the UK branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, agreed a partnership programme with the National Assembly at a function in the House of Commons in the presence of the Rt. Hon John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, Hon. Mariam Jack-Denton Speaker of the National Assembly and Sir Henry Bellingham MP, Chair of WFD.
The partnership will share UK parliamentary experience to support members of the National Assembly in The Gambia with establishing effective parliamentary oversight of the executive, making better laws and engaging the public. It follows early programmes launched in response to demand for support following the general election of April 2017.
Over the last nine months, WFD and CPA-UK:
- Organised a four-day induction programme for new members of the National Assembly in Banjul.
- Enabled the parliament of Sierra Leone to share lessons in Banjul and inform a review of the official record of parliamentary proceedings (Hansard), based on recent training they received from the Parliament of the Isle of Man (Tynwald). Tynwald also assisted directly with an induction session on the use of digital equipment.
- Facilitated an inward visit from the leadership of the National Assembly to Westminster and Cardiff to learn more about legislation, devolution, constituency outreach and the committee system.
Taking part in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Assembly and CPA UK, Sir Henry Bellingham MP said:
“We have never had anything but a great deal of mutual understanding and indeed respect for the Gambian people and Gambian parliamentarians, who during difficult years consistently stood up for democracy and human rights.
“We [UK parliament] are not perfect by any means, but where we do have knowledge, skills and experience, we want to impart that to other parliaments and maybe you can learn from some of our mistakes.”