Members of the National Assembly (NAMs) who participated in a two-day seminar on the Ecowas Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, have braced up to push for the ratification of the sub-regional document by The Gambia, by the end of December, this year.
The seminar came to a close last Friday at the Jerma Beach Hotel, where the NAMs were enjoined by other stakeholders to draw a timetable for follow-up actions by a constituted task-force committee, comprising key players.
The primary target for ratification telescopes the next National Assembly sitting, scheduled for September. This resolution was reached following a thorough discussion on the fate of the convention, which was was adopted by the heads of state of Ecowas on 14th June, 2006.
The objective of the convention is to prevent and combat the excessive and destabilising accumulation of small arms and light weapons within the Ecowas region, where an estimated 8 million illicit weapons are currently in circulation.
Murtala Touray, who deputised for the Wanep national coordinator, emphasised that the ratification of the convention is in the interest of the people, adding that The Gambia has the potential to shore-up the gaps in the circulation of illicit weapons.
Declaring the seminar close, Hon Fabakary Tombong Jatta, the majority leader and NAM for Serrekunda East, warned against underestimation of the dangers posed by small arms and light weapons, alluding to Sierra Leone and the Liberian experience.
"If there is a move to manage and control these lethal weapons, the National Assembly must not be left behind," Hon Jatta said. The majority leader then renewed the commitment of the NAMs, saying that they will help fast-track the move for the convention to be tabled before the assembly within the shortest possible time.
He commended the participants for their participation and Wanep for organising the seminar.
Commenting on the outcome of the seminar, Hon Lamin Jadama, the NAM for Niamina West and a member of the National Assembly Select-Committee on Defence and Security, said the seminar was a worthwhile event.
"In view of regional security, development and stability, the need for ratification cannot be overemphasised. Others have set the pace and there is a need for us to join. The struggle continues as we try to find out why the delay, because it is in the supreme interest of the people," Hon Jadama observed.