FT-WACSOFBy Abdoulie John

Gambia’s Fatoumata Tambajang has vowed to deliver on her mandate after being elected as member of the Executive Committee of the West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) which just concluded its 6th Biennial Session in Abuja this month.

“It is a very good development, an opportunity for us. We can all
together as a team of diverse professionals make a change,” said the Executive Director of the Banjul-based pro-democracy group Gambia Concerned for Democracy and Human Rights during an exclusive interview with this reporter.

In Mid-August, more than 100 national and regional leading civil
society organizations and networks representing the 15-member countries of the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) converged
in Abuja, Nigeria, for the 6th biennial session of WACSOF People’s Forum, which was centred under the theme: ‘The WACSOF Revival’. The event was made possible by the support of Open Society Initiative of West Africa (OSIWA), West Africa Civil society Institute (WACSI), Commonwealth Foundation, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation, Oxfam
Ibis, GIZ and ECOWAS Commission.

As an emblematic figure of the country’s civil society movement, Mrs Tambajang has been instrumental in pushing for opposition parties to overcome their differences and form a coalition ahead of December
polls. Since the political crisis erupted in April this year, she is
still on the frontline fighting for democracy and rule of law to
prevail in The Gambia.

To many observers, Mrs Tambajang brought new blood to Gambian civil
society which was anesthetized by President Jammeh’s 20-year rule
marred with gross violations of human rights.

A WACSOF news dispatch obtained by this reporter highlights the need
for the organisation to reach a consensus amid huge challenges. “There was consensus among all participants that the first step for the revival and strengthening of the organization could not happen without a legitimate holding of this forum which provided the opportunity for civil society organizations in attendance to voice their minds in relation to WACSOF’s challenges and proffer new avenues for the way forward,” reads the document.

A declaration adopted at the end of the Forum invites the regional
bloc “to effectively mainstream through WACSOF civil society
interventions into the ECOWAS Vision 2020, particularly the ECOWAS Community Strategy Framework (CSF 2016-2020)”, among other points.

Other members of the Executive include: President: Honorable Khady Fall  Tall (Senegal); 1st Vice President: Margaret Udoh (Nigeria); 2nd Vice President: Dionisio Pereira (Cape Verde); Youth Representative: Abouzeidi Sanousi Abdoul Aziz (Niger); Member: Dansa Kourouma (Guinea Conakry); Member: Ngolo T. Katta (Sierra Leone); Member: Paula Melo (Guinea Bissau); Member: Korotoumou Traoré (Mali); Member: Yameogo Urbain (Burkina Faso); Member: Sulemana Braimah (Ghana).

Over these past years, WACSOF has been instrumental in bringing
together civil society organizations in order to promote and entrench democracy within the West African subregion. Despite huge challenges, participants were able to devote themselves to their noble mission.

Expectations are high about the ability of WACSOF to bring new synergy into grassroots organisations operating in the tiny West African nation…

Ends

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