United States Ambassador to The Gambia, C. Patricia Alsup recently attended a symposium to mark the first anniversary of ‘For The Gambia First’ organization in Kanifing. This civil society organization grew out of U.S. Embassy Banjul’s WhatsApp Group, which was launched in September, 2016.
Ambassador Alsup delivered the keynote remarks at the event and said she was excited to be associated with the organization.
She remarked: “In the build up to The Gambia’s Presidential Election in December 2016, the U.S. Embassy’s Public Diplomacy Section saw the urgent need to expand our digital engagement with Gambians. We wanted to provide a platform for civil discourse and free communication even in the restrictive environment of the former regime. Since its launch, the U.S. Embassy Banjul WhatsApp Group has welcomed Gambians from all walks of life, who openly take part in meaningful, productive, and constructive civic discussion. You have all taken part in conversations about democracy and human rights; civic responsibility; opportunities for young Gambians; transparency and accountability; transitional justice; women and youth empowerment, and so many others. We keenly followed the very healthy conversations among young Gambians as the crucial December 2016 polls neared. The group played a remarkable role during the 40-day political impasse that ensued after Former President Yahya Jammeh rejected the outcome of the elections. In spite of the tense political climate at the time, not only did the group members bravely voice their concerns on the unfolding political events, but also showed admirable tolerance and respect of each other’s viewpoints. You encouraged each other to remain peaceful, to heed the calls to stay home rather than taking to the streets, and you shared the public statements calling for Jammeh’s departure. This conversation was an inspiration to me and my staff sheltering at the embassy during this uncertain time.