Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. Shelly Seaver recently joined a panel of four diplomats to discuss the importance of political debate during the official launch ceremony of The Gambia Commission on Political Debates. The organization, the first such in the country, was founded by two of The Gambia’s Mandela Washington Fellowship alumni. Bakary Fatty, a 2017 Mandela Washington Fellow, is a law graduate and committed activist, who is encouraging transparency and accountability among elected government representatives. Ebrima Sonko, a 2019 Mandela Washington Fellow, is a graduate of the University of The Gambia and an emerging civil society leader who aspires to be a human rights lawyer. In a panel with the Chiefs of Mission of the European Union Delegation in The Gambia, the British High Commission, and the United Nations Population Fund, CDA Seaver said political debate is a critical ingredient needed to strengthen The Gambia’s democracy. She underscored that political debates give a platform for politicians to share their plan for the country and allow people to ask the hard hitting questions to determine who they will give their most sacred of trusts to – their vote. She urged the Commission on Political Debates to partner with others to developing robust strategies to educate voters. Since 2016, the U.S. Embassy has supported the Commission on Political Debates, through a grant to the Gambia’s Alumni Association, the Commission received funding to support the first-ever presidential debate in 2016, and National Assembly and Local Government debates in 2018.