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Interior Minister says Kanilai incident was accidental discharge caused by delayed communication

Gambia’s Interior Minister has described the shooting incident between the ECOMIG forces and Gambia’s Army that occurred on Thursday in Kanilai, home village of former President Jammeh, as accidental discharge caused by delayed communication.

According to him, it is important for the country to understand that there is no cause for alarm, that there is no serious confrontation between the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) personnel and ECOMIG troops on the ground.

Mai Ahmad Fatty made the remarks on Friday at a press briefing at the Ministry’s Conference room following several narrations and version regarding the shooting incident that happened in Kanilai between the two forces.

He said the incident is been blown out of proportion and exaggerated in many quarters.

Narrating how the incident happened, Minister Fatty said part of the four main functions of the ECOMIG mandate in The Gambia is to protect Kanilai and surrounding areas. He said they are doing that and base in Bwiam, not too far from Kanilai.

“We have these forces who supposed to be stationed in villages just before Kanilai and communication was a bit slow in reaching to our Gambian forces that the Senegalese troops will be station there. And by the time the information got to them, there was an attempt by the Senegalese forces to pass through Gambian security corridors. At the time the incident took place, the Gambia Armed Forces did not get clearance from the Gambia national army command. They could not allow them access. Fundamentally, the Senegalese forces also acting within the mandate which allows them unrestricted access to that area also felt they have the right to access the area. So that was just a little miscommunication. There was no intentional effort on the part of the Senegalese forces to shoot anybody” he narrated.

He repeated that it was an accidental discharge that resulted to minor injuries but quickly noted that no member of the Senegalese forces or ECOMIG present had any direct aim at anyone. He also noted that none of the injuries where live threatening as victims were immediately evacuated to Bwiam and RVTH and released same day.

“It was a minor misunderstanding or miscommunication that resulted to what transpired. The matter has been diffused and deescalated. There is no tension in either sides – the Gambian side or the ECOMIG side. Both Armed forces are integrated so that they can perform their duties properly” he said.

Minister Fatty described the situation as regrettable adding that a meeting was immediately convened between the ECOMIG command, GAF and the Gambian side. He said there was effective and rapid response in the highest level in the country and consultations were conducted on all sides. He said they had affirmed readiness to continue with ECOMIG on the ground as they are here to help stabilize the country.

“There is no difference or confrontation between the forces. It was delayed communications which cause the misunderstanding at the access point. The Gambian side was supposed to be communicated to but they got the information later before the Senegalese movement. But now there is harmony. We are brothers and sisters with Senegal and the Senegalese forces are performing a important duty on our soil. We welcome them and I want all Gambians to embrace them. They are not an occupying force, they are not here to threaten our peace, they are not here to oppress, and they are not here to impede on the rights of every Gambian citizens. Rather, they are here to improve our security to enable the government become more functional and give us an environment we can perform the reforms that are necessary t move this country” Minister Fatty said.

He commended the Gambian forces for acting professionally during the incident by exercising maximum restraint.

“They did not return fire when the accident discharge happened. They behaved in the most disciplined manner which really helped to deescalate the tension during the inadequate miscommunication at the time” he said.

Minister Fatty assured that measures will now be taken in order to avert this kind of situations. He said effective coordination has been restored among all sides, communications will be effectively improved and the situation as at now has been restored to normalcy.

“There is no cause for alarm. No one in the country should be worried about anything and everything is quiet and peaceful. Nobody should be concern about going out or traveling or passing by Foni. This is not a grave situation and not dangerous phenomena and there is no escalation of violence or hostility but natural occurrence. We have learnt from this lesson and the lesson will continue to guide us and the ECOMIG command too has learned from this” he concluded.

THE CONSTITUTION AND THE MOU ARE MUTUALLY INCLUSIVE

 

INTRODUCTION

Prior to the December elections in The Gambia, several opposition parties formed a coalition to remove the incumbent President Yahya Jammeh from office. As expected of any genuine political compromise, they held several meetings to achieve their common goal of uprooting long-term leader of the APRC regime. During their negotiations, many citizens hoping for a relief from the oppressive regime and generalized economic hardship kept their nerves as they prayed, encouraged and urged the political leaders to find a workable solution. Majority of Gambians shared the prevailed view that no single political party could defeat Jammeh through the ballot box. However, optimists believe that if the opposition political parties could coalesce around a single presidential candidate, the seemingly indomitable Jammeh will be defeated at the ballot box. When news broke out that GDC has pulled out of negotiations, many felt betrayed and condemned that party’s actions. In fact, many people speculated that GDC is a sham party the dictator was using as a front to create disunity and distractions in the ranks of the opposition to ensure his fifth electoral victory.

Notwithstanding GDC’s withdrawal from the talks, the remaining parties miraculously reached the long-awaited compromise that had remained illusive to the opposition parties since 2002 presidential election. The agreement was documented in a blueprint called a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU listed the goals, the strategic objectives, composition, office of flag-bearer, tenure of office of the flag-bearer, transitional cabinet, coalition executive committee, Ad Hoc committees, The Secretariat, and transitional provision. Gambians and advocates for democracy across the globe hailed the brilliance of the drafters; endorsed the document wholeheartedly; and published and distributed it. The MOU guided the selection of the flag-bearer and fundraising initiatives to fund the campaign amongst other things. The incumbent was defeated and eventually removed by the Coalition through the ballot box in December 2016.

With all the aforementioned struggles and achievements, there have been hints that the terms and agreements of MOU would not be honored with respect to the stipulated tenure of office of the flag-bearer (President Barrow). Hon. Halifa Sallah, National Assembly Member for Sere Kunda and leader of the People’s Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS), has been asked on several occasions as to whether Barrow should step down after serving three years in office. He responded consistently that the agreement in the MOU should be respected. Mr. Ousainou Darboe, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP), also had an opinion regarding the issue. He said the constitution mandates a five-year term for president. He contended that President Barrow must serve his full five-year term, and that he will personally challenge in court any attempt to condition President Barrow to serve only three years.

 

These different positions taken by the two veteran politicians have sparked a debate amongst people who endorsed the MOU at its inception. The supporters for a shorter transition argued that President Barrow should honor the agreement because he came to power through the MOU. If he honors the promise, some believes, that will send a strong message to all politicians on our eternal commitment to ending self-perpetuating rule to be cemented by incorporating a presidential term limit in our constitution. Those who are calling for President Barrow not to honor the MOU claimed that the three-year agreement for the Coalition President conflicts with Section 63 (1) of the Constitution of The Gambia. Not surprisingly, they argued that the Constitution being the supreme law of the land must be respected and should therefore prevail over the MOU of the Coalition. As such, they alleged that the tenure stipulated in the MOU is ‘illegal.’

At the drafting and subsequent signing of the MOU, all stakeholders knew very well that the tenure of office of any president in The Gambia is five years. This notwithstanding, they proceeded and appended the Coalition MOU. The question is why have they decided to do so? Well the coalition MOU has succinctly answered the question. It stated that the transitional government will conduct constitutional review and electoral reforms and organize referendumall within three years. It is clear from the aforementioned quote that the intention of everyone at the time was to call for a referendum — to replace the 1997 constitution derogatively called The Yahya Jammeh’s Constitution by the very people when in opposition abhorred it but now in power defend it — and subsequently general elections within three years. This will provide them the mechanism to enforce the three-year agreement stated in the MOU without necessarily violating any law, not especially the constitution.

I will attempt to explain in brief some of the questions frequently being asked with respect to the Constitution and the Coalition MOU.

 

What Is A Constitution?

There are various definitions of the term constitution. I prefer the following two definitions:

Gilbert Law Dictionary defines Constitution as “a system of basic laws and principles by which a nation, state, corporation or other organization is governed.” Business dictionary.com defines “constitution as a fundamental and entrenched rules governing the conduct of an organization or nation state, and establishing its concept, character, and structure.”

It can be deduced from these definitions that a constitution directs the actions and activities of people in charge of the affairs for the entity it is created. Therefore, as our constitution was created for the purposes of a country, its governors must align their actions to the principles, rules, regulations and laws stated, implied or envisaged in the constitution. Anything contrary or in violation of the constitution is null and void ab initio. Thus, the 1997 Constitution is the fundamental and supreme law of The Gambia.

 

WHAT IS A MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING (MOU)?

 

There is no universally acceptable definition of memorandum of understanding (MOU). I found the definition provided by Law Teachers particularly instructive. They define memorandum of understanding (MOU) as “a document describing a bilateral or multilateral agreement between parties. It’s most often used in cases where parties either do not imply a legal commitment or situations where the parties cannot create a legally enforcement agreements. It is more a formal alternative to a gentlemen’s agreement.”

A memorandum of understanding does not generally have the force of law and by that it does not generally create a binding agreement, as does a contract. As stated in the definition, people generally resort to MOU where they either do not intent a legal commitment or found themselves in a situation they could not create a legally enforceable agreement. The latter is what happened to the Coalition. They intended to have a legally binding document but found themselves in a position they couldn’t create a legally enforceable agreement. That was the reason they came up with an agreement in the form of a MOU.

 

WHAT DID THE CONSTITUTION SAYS ABOUT THE NUMBER OF YEARS BARROW SHOULD SERVED vs THE NUMBER OF YEARS THE COALITION MOU SAYS BARROW SHOULD SERVED?

 

As highlighted in the introduction, the most heated debate surrounding President Barrow and the Coalition is whether to honor the MOU or comply with the Constitution. The Coalition leaders are passionately divided on this issue, as are their ardent supporters. When Barrow was asked whether he would honor the three years agreement, he responded in the affirmative, but with a caveat that they may go back to the negotiating table if the need arises. When Halifa Sallah was asked he said he expects Barrow to honor the agreement. This notwithstanding, he alluded that he was also opened to the possibility of re-negotiating the tenure of the flag-bearer. When Lawyer Darboe was asked he said that the constitution provided for a five-year term, and that if President Barrow is to serve less than the full term, he will personally challenge it in the Supreme Court of The Gambia. Having briefly explained the position of some of the coalition leadership and their supporters, now lets see what the two documents say.

Section 63(1) of the Constitution provides that “ The term of office of an elected President shall subject to subsection (3) and (6), be for a term of five years;…” The MOU, on the other hand, provides under the heading Organs of the Coalition that “…The person elected at a National Convention of The Coalition who stands as an Independent Candidate belonging to no party shall be supported by the Coalition as Flag Bearer…The flag bearer will…a) Head a transitional government for a period of three years”

 

IS IT THE CONSTITUTION THAT IS SUPREME IN THIS CIRCUMSTANCE OR THE COALITION MOU?

The Gambia, like many democratic states, exercises what is called constitutional sovereignty. Constitutional sovereignty in a nutshell means the supremacy of the constitution, which is the expressed written will of the people. That is why in The Gambia, the Constitution is regarded as the supreme law of the land. The superiority of the Constitution over all other laws is as stipulated in Section 4 of the constitution of the Gambia. The said section provides that:

This constitution is the supreme law of the Gambia and any other law found to be inconsistence with any provision of this constitution shall, to the extent of the inconsistency shall be void.

Evidently, by virtue of the aforementioned section, the Constitution does not only have the force of law, it is the law that all other laws must conform to. The Constitution of The Gambia overrides any law or agreement (contracts, MoUs, Letters of Intent, etc.,). Thus, any law or agreement that is contrary or that violates any of the provisions of the Constitution, such law or agreement, if challenged in court will be invalidated.

The Coalition MOU, on the other hand, does not have the force of law for it cannot be enforced in any court of law in The Gambia to the extent inconsistent with the Constitution. And even where it could, it must be in conformity with the Constitution of The Gambia. In this circumstance (or any other circumstance), any agreement be it an MOU or a contract must conform to the Constitution of The Gambia for it to have the backing of the law. Premised on the aforesaid, the Constitution of The Gambia will prevail over the Coalition MOU.

 

CAN THE THREE-YEAR TENURE STIPULATED IN THE COALITION MOU BE ENFORCED WITHOUT NECESSARILY VIOLATING THE CONSTITUTION OF THE GAMBIA?

The answer is an emphatic yes. The political parties that formed the coalition have the power and influence to see that promises stipulated in the MOU are respect and executed as agreed. They constituted the cabinet and most importantly have absolute majority in the National Assembly. With such power, all they need to do is trigger constitutional reform by calling for a referendum. The referendum should be to repeal and replaced the 1997 constitution with a new constitution. To amend or repeal any provision of the 1997 Constitution of the Gambia, The bill must be supported by the votes of not less than three quarters of all members of the National Assembly first — this is after the bill has been published in the Gazette already see s.226 —, before it can be presented to the citizens in a referendum. This new constitution will give birth to the Third Republic. It will also mandate that we go to the polls to elect a new President and National Assembly Members. This being the case, they can make the commencement date exactly three years as stipulated in the Coalition MOU. Thus there will be no 1997 Constitution and therefore no violation of its provisions.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that the Constitution of any country is the supreme law of that land. As such, for the purpose of governing any country its Constitution takes precedence over the Quran, the Bible, Acts, Contracts, MOUs, etc. Where any of these scriptures or documents conflicts with the constitution, the constitution will prevail. I believe that the drafters of the coalition MOU were fully acquainted with this fact. They were also aware of the fact that from the attainment of independence, there has been no peaceful transfer of power in our country. The previous regimes spent a combine ridiculous fifty-two years in power. For whatever reasons best known to them, neither government showed any willingness to relinquish power.

 

If their reluctant to democratically transfer power taught us anything, the signatories of the Coalition MOU believed is the idea that citizens must decide on two-term limit for presidents. Every single politician in the country was theoretically not opposed to term limit or relinquishing power at some point. But once they were voted in office, they intentionally broke their promises. In fact, the APFRC said one of the core reasons why they orchestrated the 1994 coup is that President Jawara has stayed in power for too long, and alleged that he showed no willingness to relinquish power. When President Jammeh seized power, he also spent twenty-two years with even imperial ambitions to coronate himself as a monarch.

 

The political parties that formed the coalition knew that Gambians were tired with self-perpetuating rules. During their negotiations, and of course during the campaign, they promised that they would ensure that term limit is instituted. The tenure stipulated in the MOU is a statement of intent that term limit is a priority for the coalition and that they will start with themselves by agreeing on a tenure of office for the flag bearer with a three-year transition for the Coalition government.

 

They know very well that they will not be able to achieve everything they would want within three years — just as no government will be able to achieve everything it intends to achieve even if given hundred years — but will ensure that they set a precedent for subsequent governments. Premised on the aforesaid, the Coalition MOU is not illegal (so the claims that it is illegal is wrong) rather the MOU and the Constitution are mutually inclusive. The intention of all the parties to the MOU is clear and unambiguous. As the platform President Barrow was elected on, the Coalition MOU must be executed within the framework of the 1997 Constitution for the creation of long-awaited Third Republican Constitution in 2020.

Bubacarr Drammeh

3 SOLDIERS INJURED

 

Three Gambian soldiers sustained injuries after a misunderstanding between the Ecowas military mission in the Gambia, Ecomig, and Gambia Armed Forces soldiers generated into a standoff at Kanilai, official sources told The Standard.

According to Lt Col. Omar Bojang Army PRO, the incident happened yesterday morning at Kanilai as a result of a misunderstanding. “But the matter has been resolved and there is no cause for panic. The matter will be jointly investigated by a board to determine what provoked the incident,” Bojang said. He added that this investigation board will get to the bottom of the incident and come out with a report. “But actually it was just a simple misunderstanding that has been properly handled and taken care of. There is absolutely no cause for panic or alarm,” PRO Bojang told The Standard.

Source: Standard Newspaper

Gambia: Justice for Jammeh-Era Abuses Crucial

 

New Government Should Develop Roadmap for Prosecutions

(Nairobi) – Gambia’s government should act to prosecute those responsible for grave crimes committed during the 22-year rule of Yahya Jammeh. Fair trials are crucial for victims and their families and for building respect for the rule of law in the country.

In a March 6, 2017 letter to Attorney General and Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou, Human Rights Watch encouraged the new government of President Adama Barrow to develop a strategy detailing how it intends to hold to account those implicated in the arbitrary arrests, torture, and enforced disappearances that were the hallmark of Jammeh’s rule.

“All Gambians deserve to see justice for the terrible crimes committed during Jammeh’s rule,” said Jim Wormington, West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The new government needs to identify the concrete steps it will take to investigate past abuses and ensure fair trials.”

Barrow defeated Jammeh in the December 2016 elections and was sworn in on January 19, two days before Jammeh finally stepped down under threat of a regional military intervention. Jammeh went into exile in Equatorial Guinea.

Since taking office, Barrow’s government has released dozens of political prisoners and has reversed Gambia’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court. Barrow has promised that victims of the Jammeh era will “get justice.” But while the government has announced plans for a truth and reconciliation commission, it has yet to say how it will conduct judicial investigations into past crimes.

During Jammeh’s rule, Human Rights Watch interviewed dozens of torture survivors, former detainees, and family members of Gambians killed or forcibly disappeared, including people targeted as long ago as 1996 and as recently as January 2017. Many described the government’s failure to investigate and prosecute abusive officials.

Tambadou told Human Rights Watch by email on April 20:

We want to ensure first and foremost that there is social cohesion and national reconciliation; to establish the truth and document an accurate historical record of past abuses in order to learn appropriate lessons and prevent recurrence; and to rebuild our administration of justice system in order to ensure not only prosecutions should it be required but also safeguard the fair trial rights of the accused in accordance with minimum standards of international human rights norms.

 

He said in March that, until his ministry has the necessary capacity and resources, “no new criminal cases involving crimes allegedly committed by the former government will be handled.” Tambadou had earlier criticized the police for the arrest of nine former intelligence officials for the alleged murder of opposition activist Solo Sandeng in April 2016, stating that it occurred without his knowledge and that “criminal investigations must never be rushed.” The prosecution has since asked for more time to collect evidence in the case, while the accused remain in custody.

Human Rights Watch identified key reforms needed to bolster the capacity, independence, and impartiality of the justice system, which was both neglected and politicized during Jammeh’s time in power. Priorities include establishing an independent judiciary; creating a system to protect witnesses and judges; ensuring that accused receive access to effective legal representation; and identifying ways to incorporate victim participation into the proceedings, in addition to serving as witnesses.

The government should also support efforts by third countries to bring universal jurisdiction cases against Jammeh-era officials living outside of Gambia, Human Rights Watch said. Switzerland has already arrested and charged former Interior Minister Ousman Sonko with crimes against humanity for his role in torture during Jammeh’s time in power.

“The Barrow government has expressed a commitment to justice for Jammeh-era crimes,” Wormington said. “Now they need to promptly develop a strategy to ensure victims and their families have their day in court.”

By Human Rights Watch

GOOD MORNING PRESIDENT BARROW

 

Peace and security are the fundamental pillars on which any sustainable development is desk. I don’t really know what it is about this new government and the worrisome security lapses. To say it as result of its civilian back is a disservice to country. Apart from the CDS and Directors of NIA and Prisons, nothing much has changed in the security apparatus under the Barrow government. In fact it saw the reinstating of former officers and other ranks who were unlawfully dismissed by the dictatorship yet the security of the Gambia is more fragile today than before. What accounts for such security failures?

 
During the two in one celebration which witnessed the inauguration of President Barrow and the 51st Independence commemoration, serious security omission occurred costing three lives, many injuries and lost of properties. Nothing came out of it despite calls for an investigation into the blunders. Armed robbery along our boarders began to rise alarmingly. Then came the violent clashes between party supporters during and after the NAM election. Now shoot out between ECOMIG and and Armed Forces.

 

Well if it is a test on the strength and security preparedness of the new government, it has woefully failed.
Any government which openly manifest its distrust on the security services only helps in alienating itself from such a crucial institution and instrument for enhancing peace, security and stability. Many of services personnel feel alienated as a result of either tribe and/or loyalty to the dictatorship particularly during the impasse. The selective dismissal of officers and security chiefs only fueled suspicion and unspoken nepotism.

 

The continued presence of ECOMIG is another conflict of interest between them and our local GAF who perceived the latter as usurping their rights and duties. They also believed the current government like that of Jawara did with the Nigerian officers, look up to the ECOMIG more than them. The enjoy less privileges as opposed to the occupier soldiers. If you don’t trust the Gambia Armed Forces disband them. No serious security officer will allow another armed soldier entry to his guard post without clearance even if they are from your own unit. The ECOMIG are completely out of order in firing warning shots in Kanilai. To shoot at indigenous soldiers is not only unacceptable but a blatant insult to our soldiers. Well, if your own government does not respect you, how do you expect to get it from a strange who thinks he is better than you?

 
Mr President, your government needs to step up and seriously address the security issues. Asking Senegal to provide extra soldiers does not address the brewing security tension between your government, ECOMIG and the Gambian army. We are told not to criticise you because them brings more problems. We will continue to objectively call you out wherever you fail to deliver and if anyone is uncomfortable with that happy days. Similarly, the two state guard commanders are at war as to who commands the other. Everywhere one turns his face is met with an issue requesting an urgent response yet you carry on as if all is well.

 

Whatever is on your table now, must wait for the security concerns be sorted once and for all. Without security and stability nothing worthwhile can be achieved.
Until Monday, Jummah Mubarak.

 

Sulayman Jeng
Birmingham, UK

Banjulians decide their destiny, says O.J

 

Omar Jallow, alias OJ, the Peoples’ Progressive Party (PPP) Leader, recently said the people of Banjul have manifested that they are the one who decide their own destiny in terms of electing their representatives into public office.

He said this was manifested when Gambians did a convention to elect Adama Barrow as Gambian President through a Coalition Government, ending the Yahya Jammeh’s APRC Government on 18 January 2017.

Mr Jammeh now lives in exile in Equatorial Guinea, after refusing to accept Presidential election results – a week after conceding defeat.

He said the strategy for the Coalition was to elect a President, National Assembly and Local Government representatives, to review unfriendly laws, formulate laws and policies, and approve projects for development programmes for the citizenry.

He said initial plans were to contest as Independent Candidates under the Coalition Government to support Adama Barrow in Parliament, because according to him, no project can be implemented by Government without Parliamentary approval. “Parliament is more important than the Presidency because they can remove the president,” he added.

Mr Jallow noted that following the Coalition break away ahead of the parliamentary elections, individual parties contested against each other, instead of contesting as Independent Candidates under the Coalition- as agreed, as they did in the case of Adama Barrow. While some attempted to form Tactical Alliance, Banjulians came up with a convention to elect Parliamentary Representatives.

James Gomez, Fisheries Minister, a PPP member, explained that Team Tahawal Banjul was the name given to the committee that took applicant candidates through Primaries, leading to selection of three candidates for Banjul Central and South, a male and female drawn from the PPP and for North from PDOIS party.

All the candidates selected by Team Tahawal Banjul won the 6 April 2017 Parliamentary Elections.

OJ, who is also the Agriculture Minister, said Team Tahawal Banjul looked at those they believe would serve Banjul’s interest, adding: “What we see is Banjul, not party or individual interest. Those elected want peace for Banjul, and love Banjul.”

Jallow said Banjul is backward because they give their good things to outsiders, but expressed hope and confidence with the renewed spirit.

Source: Point Newspaper

“The National Assembly Is Expressing The New Gambia”–Sidia Jatta

 

By Lamin Sanyang

 

Honourable Sidia Jatta, National Assembly Member for Wuli West has commended several members for supporting national interests at the National Assembly in Banjul.

“The National Assembly is expressing the New Gambia,” Hon. Sidia Jatta said.

Hon. Jatta who was speaking at the national assembly committee selection said he has seen what was not seen in the past 15 years that he served in the National Assembly. He commended the freedom in which most members are expressing themselves. He called on them to continue expressing themselves freely.

“We are representing the Gambia in this National Assembly. I’m happy honourable members have recognised these fundamental facts,” he asserted.

Jatta went further to call on the attention of the honourable assembly to the slogan ‘Leave Party Tag Out’. He said this was a slogan which he invented in 1997. He reiterated the call to work the interest of the nation.

“We are in the right direction,” he pointed out.

The veteran politician has also highlighted the importance of including the opposition members to the ECOWAS Parliament, saying it is stated in the ECOWAS Protocols. He said numbers are not very significant in this case as Nigeria has dense population of millions yet it has equal representation with the Gambia in the PanAfrican Parliament likewise China in the United Nations.

“There are two opposition parties here that is APRC and GDC,” he said.

The Member for Foni Kansala, Honorable Musa Amul Nyassi has also call on the members to take their time to critically analyzed issues and avoid calling names. He urged the members whose names have appeared seven or eight times on different committees to do justice to themselves after knowing they cannot be efficient in all these committees. He suggested the inclusion of other members who were not reflected in those committees.

Nyassi called on the new parliamentarians particularly the young members to give chance to experience members so as to tap from their expertise and vast experiences.

“You will be surprise to know I have a mentor in this national assembly who has groomed me in youth work even though we belong to different political parties. I have been in constant contact with him for guidance and counseling all these years,” Hon. Musa Amul Nyassi said.

He added: “We must serve national interest first.”

Honourable Alhagie S. Darboe, Member for Brikama North has made recommendations to include Halifa Sallah in the Standing Order Committee of the National Assembly, saying he would be effective in the said committee. He said all parties cannot be equally represented in all the committees. He added that consideration should be given to the ratio of parties in the national assembly.

The honorable member for Niamina West made an observation that the members of GDC were not fairly treated. He said they were not included in most of the committees. He also complained that some members appeared seven or eight times.

Meanwhile, the members for Banjul North, Banjul South, Latrikunda Sabiji, Busumbala and Nominated members among others made several interventions. The session was adjourned to Monday, April 24, 2017.

Kassa Jatta demands government compensation

 

Doudou Kassa Jatta, a prominent Bakau politician who alleged he was arrested 27 times by the Jammeh regime has demanded justice from the new government for alleged inhuman acts meted out to him by former President Jammeh regime.

Kassa who recently made a U-turn back to UDP after cross-carpeting to the GDC during the presidential election, also took time to demand compensation from the new government.
“I will like the government to compensate me for all the inhuman treatments I endured under Yahya Jammeh. If not I will sue them and demand justice,” he said.

Mr. Jatta said he faced arrest on 27 occasions and was jailed at least 26 times for a month or so in many cases. “It was only on one occasion that I was released on the same day. On all other occasions, I was jailed for at least weeks or months”.

He said his ultimate goal is for Jammeh—who ruled for more than two decades—and his accomplices to be tried and punished for the atrocities they are alleged to have committed.
“I suffered a lot during that period, and while in exile my mother died in my absence. With all these things that he has done, Jammeh should not go free,” Kassa Jatta told The Standard.

Kassa further said his wife went to the extent of threatening to divorce him if he doesn’t abandon politics.
“Jammeh is gone but I am still not happy because my heart is broken that he was not arrested before he left the country. If you ask me the best thing I would love to see today I will tell ‘Jammeh coming-back to the country to face justice’.”

He said Jammeh made a lot of Gambians suffer and that he shouldn’t have gone scot-free. “Justice first before any reconciliation,” he concluded.

Source: Standard Newspaper

President Adama Barrow Received The Gambia Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Delegates from the Sub Region

 

A six-man delegation comprising of Executives of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry
and their Senegalese and Malian counterparts on Wednesday 19th April 2017 paid a courtesy-call to
His Excellency Adama Barrow, President of the Republic of the Gambia, at the seat of government in
Fajara.

In an interview with GRTS, president of the GCCI – Muhammed Jagana remarked that they were at
the Presidency to pay a courtesy-call to His Excellency, President Barrow. Mr. Jagana further
informed GRTS that, GCCI invited Mr. Serigne Mboob and Ahmadou Giggeh, President of the
Kaolack and the Malian Chamber of Commerce, respectively as special guests. The aim is to help
boost business relations amongst ECOWAS member countries.

Reacting to the visit, the visiting businessmen said they were impressed by President Barrow’s
humility and quest to work on strategies that will integrate the economy of the three countries; and
the West African sub-region as a whole.

The visit was part of GCCI’s golden jubilee celebrations which also includes an international
trade-fare being hosted at the Independent Stadium.

Amie Bojang-Sissoho
Director of Press and Public Relations

Gambia torches confiscated marijuana worth D8M

 

By Lamin Njie

 
Interior Minister Mai Ahmad Fatty said on Wednesday the government will ramp up efforts to stamp
out the menace of illicit drugs in the country – as he presided over the torching of about 2 tons of
marijuana worth 8 million dalasis.

 
The Gambia government through the Drug Law Enforcement Agency under the Ministry of the Interior
burnt 1 ton 940 kilograms 500 grams of cannabis sativa at an incineration exercise held at Cape Point,
Bakau.

 
And Minister Fatty in his address at the ceremony said: “The Gambia under the new dispensation
cannot and will not be a safe haven for drug traffickers and abusers.”

 
Adding: “The crusade against drugs is an ongoing effort that shall remain relentless. The future of this
country will not be mortgaged by drug dealers, drug peddlers and their patrons – and today we have
demonstrated again our collective commitment to protect our future.”

 
Fatty described the ceremony as a milestone in the fight against the concerning issue of drugs while
urging everyone to cooperate to check the menace.

 
He said: “Again, the Drug Law Enforcement Agency has demonstrated to all Gambians and indeed the
international community that the crusade against drugs is an ongoing effort that shall remain
relentless – and that they shall not be daunted by challenges.”

 
And he continued: “Combating drugs is one of the most difficult jobs one can embark upon in modern
times. While the number of drug users and traffickers is on the increase, the methods of concealment
are also getting more and more sophisticated.

 
“I want to put on notice those drug dealers and peddlers either local or international that we are on
your tail. We are going to utilise the best intelligence, increase the capacity of our intelligence
gathering mechanisms at the level of the police supported by comprehensive policy directives
together with the DLEAG, SIS, Armed Forces and associate institutions to make sure – over a period of
time – drugs will no longer constitute a menace to The Gambia.”

 
Earlier, the director-general of the Drug Law Enforcement Agency said the fight against drugs was
complex and challenging.

 
He said the war against drugs was worth fighting and the destruction exercise was a key activity on the
agenda of the Drug Law Enforcement Agency.

GAMBIA TO CHANGE FROM MARBLE TO BALLOT PAPER

 

The Gambia may change from the marble to ballot papers in the coming local government election, according to the chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission in an interview with a popular online Gambian news site, The Torch.

Njai further said the political change in Gambia has triggered mass participation in politics, which makes it quite inconvenient to continue with the marbles.
“We cannot afford to continue with this ballot system. With the change of system in governance, Gambians are now participating in politics in numbers and that means in every election, we will have to make lots of drums and paint them with different colours. This is huge logistical nightmare,” he said.

“That is why we are working towards a paper ballot system. These drums are not just expensive to make but you have to paint them with party colours and where you have independent candidates, you have to give each a colour,” Njai told The Torch.
He continued to say when you have thousands of ballot drums, transporting them to different locations will be very difficult.

“We are working on ensuring that this is done before the local government election because marble is practical and easy when you have few political participants…”
Due to high level of illiteracy The Gambia introduced a unique voting system in the early 1960’s to address that but Njai said the country is now prepared for ballot papers.
“There are countries using the ballot papers that have lower literacy level than us,” he argued.

Source: Standard Newspaper

GOOD MORNING PRESIDENT BARROW

 

Many moons ago, Gambians would give their all just to see Jammeh hit the exit point. Then they decided. And Yaya left. A new dawn set in. With it arrived free speech. You can freely speak your mind. Anonymity is no longer necessity for many a Gambian. “This new political dispensation is liberating, and should, if handled right, redound to our national development. You have to give credit to President Barrow for being the custodian of this new-found freedom. He and the Gambian people worked side-by-side to reach this threshold. None could do without the order”.

 

Then the procedural errors began to erupt. As the celebration was overtaken by reality check, some cajoled the to be leadership both “visionary and quick on its feet”. The change disoriented some of the old school activists. For them nothing actually changed but regime. The institutions, instruments and practices remained unaffected. Prompting the rebirth of a new street talk. The governance style got dressed as low-energy, incoherent and vacillating. “It’s neither here nor there. It’s a-grope-in-the-dark kind of leadership, a leadership bereft of ideas and inspiration”. Consequently, some began to travel back in time in search of answers to why the newly minted democracy is failing where dictatorship has succeeded. “Love him or hate him, and put away his wanton human rights abuses for a fleeting second, Jammeh was a bold, transformational leader. He was an action-man, never the one to wait and waffle and procrastinate.

 

His leadership style had spurts of energy that defied imagination. With him you felt a certain earnestness about what is it that he plans to do. There is boldness, there is intensity. I guess his military background had something to do with it. Military governments, unlike their civilian counterparts, tend to be bold, swift, and encompassing in their deliberations. At this point in 1994, in Jammeh’s 100 days in power, there was no mistaking his intensity and priorities. He had assembled a strong cabinet, he had conducted a plethora of cabinet meetings, the contours of commissions of inquiry into Jawara’s past had begun to emerge. You felt the immensity of the changes happening all around you. It was hard to keep up. But with Barrow, one is at pains to decipher where things are going”, reasoned Cherno Baba Jallow.

 
Mr Jallow was not speaking alone, Mr President. He echoed the view of many others who fought with and want you to succeed. After 22 years of repressive years and Yaya constantly in people’s face, it will take Gambians to appreciate a modest and people oriented style of leadership. Besides, everyone seems to have their personalised expectations from you. To satisfy all will equate chasing flicking shadows on a slippery surface. Perhaps, engaging the public more often by enlightening them that meaningful change of instruments, institutions and practices of a democracy particularly one which inherited from a brutal Dictatorship must first repeal all draconian laws that enabled abuse. This cannot be achieved without due diligence, resources and support from the citizenry. We have seen the errors made when you rush to satisfy. Change is never easy. Some are disadvantaged by it while others benefit from it. What matters is for it to be an inclusive change nurturing equal opportunity.

 
Fixing the decayed economy will not be easy and quick. Firstly, the factors which eroded the economy must be identified and addressed. Care must also be taken to avert falling into suffocating economic strings that willing donors attached to their aids and grants. Attitudinal change to work is another necessity which must come from citizens. Government can appoint citizens to look after institutions but can’t determine who is working for self or state. How many ordinary Gambians have unapologetically stolen from national coffers and are celebrated a good sons and daughters? How many of us put country before self? That change cannot come from the leadership but us.

 

Are we ready to work for less to get the country where we want her especially during unsociable hours? Everyone wants it cut and dry but is unwilling to get dirty to see the change we so much can’t wait to have. How many civil servants will report on duty at 08:00 and stay in their offices for all their shift time doing only official duties? Are we cutting on expenses by using public facilities for official duties only?

 
We as a citizen must lead the change. If our attitudes to country isn’t changed, any government effort will be but cosmetic. The infighting at work, the hypocrisy and greed must all change to help bring about the change we want from government. After all who is the government? It is not only Barrow and his cabinet but you and I. The Wolof say before you ask someone to have a shower, you must be clean first.

 

Sulayman Jeng
Birmingham, UK

JOBE DOUBTFUL FOR DUANE CLASH

 

By Lamin Drammeh

Modou Jobe is a doubt for Asc Linguere clash with Duane this Saturday, after sustaining an ankle injury during training, The Fatu Network can confirm.

The sensational Gambian goalkeeper sat out his side’s 1-1 draw against Stade Mbour last weekend due to a minor knock.
He Collided with a teammate at the club’s training centre on Friday and may not feature for the weekend match.

It was initially feared Jobe, was set for a lengthy spell on the sideline but the player himself has confirmed the injury is not as serious as he thought.

He has since started light training with team mates yesterday but remain unsure if he will return to action in time for this weekend’s match.

“I’ve picked up an ankle injury in training and missed our game with Stade Mbour last Saturday. I have started light training yesterday but I’m not sure if I will play this Saturday”, said Jobe who has played in most of Linguere’s league matches as a regular this season.

Linguere sit third from bottom in the 14 team league standings and will be hoping to beat Duane to keep their battle for relegation survival back on tract with only few games remaining.

The club has dropped to 11 place from their previous 10 in the Senegalese League table with 17 points.

Jobe has been a reported target for several big clubs since his summer transfer to Linguere from Niarry Tally last November.

He has signed a two year permanent deal with the Senegalese giants until 2018.

Court dismisses motion to restrain four judges from sitting

 

Justice Amina Saho-Ceesay of the High Court in Banjul recently dismissed the motion moved by Lawyer Yassin Senghore, Counsel for the Gambia Bar Association (GBA), for an interlocutory injunction to restrain the four judges from continuing to sit pending the determination of the suit filed before the court.

Justice Amina-Saho Ceesay’s decision came after lawyer Ida D. Drammeh, lawyer for the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), replied to the bar association’s application for the court to restrain the four judges.

Justice A. S. Ceesay, who refused the application for interlocutory injunction, ruled that the case be given an accelerated hearing.

Lawyer Senghore, who also applied that the case be heard during the vacation by the presiding judge, had the application turned down by the judge.

In refusing the application for interlocutory injunction to restrain the four judges from sitting, the court was of the view that granting the injunction may amount to granting a prayer in the substantive suit filed by the Gambia Bar Association (GBA).

It would be recalled that the Gambia Bar Association filed an action against the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, and the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) challenging the re-appointment of Justice Edward E. Ogar, Justice Martias O. Agboola, Justice Simeon A. Abi and Justice Martins U. Okoi.

The bar association was claiming among other things that the appointment of the judges was not in line with the 1997 constitution of the Republic of The Gambia and was therefore seeking the court’s jurisdiction to quash the appointment.

Senior Lawyer Ida D. Drammeh, counsel for the Judicial Service Commision (JSC), filed a preliminary objection to the suit filed by the bar association.

The preliminary objection filed by Ida D. Drammeh seeks among things that the suit filed by the Gambia Bar Association be dismissed, noting that the suit was incompetent before the court.

The matter was adjourned until 27 April 2017, for ruling on the preliminary objection filed by the Judicial Service Commission.

Source: Point Newspaper

Halifa Calls For Scrutiny Of National Assembly Committee Selection

 

By Lamin Sanyang

 

Honourable Halifa Sallah, National Assembly Member for Serrekunda has called on parliamentarians to properly scrutinize the committee selection of the National Assembly.

Sallah’s intervention came shortly after the Deputy Speaker Hon. Momodou LK Sanneh moved the report of the Committee of Selection on the composition of the Committees and International Delegations of the National Assembly 2017–2022.

“Madam Speaker, I have not seen the Standing Order Committee,” Halifa Sallah said.

The outspoken politician has referred the honourable assembly to Standing Order 75 of the National Assembly. He said it is the key of parliamentary democracy without which the National Assembly would not be able to function. He also indicated that the committee should be selected in such a way that every party will be reflected in it.

“I want to make a motion to adjourn the discussion on this particular session for members to fully scrutinize the selection to find out whether it is line with the Standing Orders, ” he pointed out.

The motion was seconded by Honourable Ousman Sillah of Banjul North Constituency.

The Honourable Speaker Mariam Jack Denton before adjourning the session admitted that the documents were only circulated few hours back which she said does not allow enough space and time for the members to go through it. Subsequently, she then adjourned the session to Thursday, April 20, 2017.

 

Gambia gets first female visually challenged parliamentarian

 

Hon. Ndey Yassin Secka is the first female visually challenged National Assembly Member.

She is among the five members nominated by President Adama Barrow at a ceremony held on Tuesday at the National Assembly building in Banjul.

Hon. Ndey Yassin Secka, who has been working as a broadcaster at the Gambia Radio for many years, is among the few women National Assembly representatives to be nominated by the President.

Former nominated Member Hon. Abdoulie Saine, who was also visually challenged, told the media recently that he did appeal to President Adama Barrow to include disabled persons in the parliament since disability doesn’t mean inability.

Former Hon. Saine, who was also a nominated member at the National Assembly under Jammeh’s regime, was also the first male visually challenged parliamentarian at the time.

This means that President Adama Barrow has responded to the call of the former nominated member by bringing another visually challenged person at the National Assembly this time a female.

Source: Point Newspaper

Halifa Sallah honoured as ‘Gentleman of the Day’

 

The Christian community on Monday, 17 April, honoured Hon. Halifa Sallah as the ‘Gentleman of the Day’ at their annual ‘kite flying’ event held at the old Radio Syd grounds in the outskirts of Banjul.

The event, which is organised to mark Easter Monday, was graced by the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Gambia, Ellison and the elders of the Christian community. Among the guests were Mr. D.A. Jawo, Minister of Information, Imam Tafsir Gaye, Honorables Ousman Sillah, Muhammed Ndow and Fatoumata Njie of Banjul North, Central and South, respectively.

On recieving the certificate honouring Hon. Halifa Sallah, Hon. Ousman Sillah expressed appreciation for the honour bestowed on the Serekunda National Assembly Member. He said the gathering which was graced by people from different denominations is indicative of “the Gambia we know”. He said this is a demonstration of the culture that has been nurtured by the inhabitants of Banjul in which they grew up and that is togetherness and sharing that they have always enjoyed.

“This is a demonstration of the One Gambia, One People and One Nation that we must all cherish, promote and defend,” said Hon. Sillah.

The Banjul North NAM thanked the Christian community for inviting him to the gathering and expressed his solidarity with them in the common quest for a Gambia that embraces all Gambians irrespective of the ethnolinguistic origin, religion and gender that one belongs to.

Source: Foroya Newspaper

GDC press secretary Jallow explains resignation

 

Essa Jallow the Press Secretary of the Gambia Democratic Congress GDC said he has left politics because the overriding reason he joined the field has largely been addressed.

“I have always had a time limit for my involvement in politics and that has gone and I will now concentrate on my profession, media and TV production,” he wrote from his base in the UK.

Mr Jallow further said: “I am done with politics full time. I will only come back if a desperate situation happens but I believe we’ve given our back to what happened in the past”, he said referring to Jammeh’s rule.

Mr Jallow made it clear that he has no misunderstanding with or misgivings about the GDC or any member of the party. ”In fact since I made my intention known to the party, I never mentioned it anywhere. Someone must have leaked it to the press,”he said.

Source: Standard Newspaper

DARBOE: I DO NOT DICTATE BARROW

 

Despite widespread assumptions that as the godfather of President Barrow he is the de factor leader of the country, Ousainou Darboe, leader of the United Democratic Party has told the BBC that he has never dictated anything to President Barrow.

Barrow resigned from the UDP to contest on a coalition ticket in the presidential election last December.
However many analysts and ordinary Gambians have said his closeness and fatherly respect for Darboe, the founding leader of the party, suggests he Darboe is influencing the presidency.
But speaking to the BBC Focus On Africa broadcast live from Banjul yesterday, Darboe denied ever dictating to the President.

Asked on the basic bread and butter concern of Gambians ever since the new government took power, example the power crisis, Mr Darboe said Gambians must be a little patient because the present government does not take impulsive or abrasive actions without proper checking.
“And we will not allow dubious companies to bring heavy fuel here at the expense of the country,” Darboe said.

Also speaking in the same programme, the Minister of Justice Ba Tambadou revealed that the type of Truth and Reconciliation Committee being prepared by the government will be tasked to take a comprehensive look at the issues of human rights abuses over the past 22 years.

“Justice is a hot topic in the Gambia now given the scale and gravity of the alleged cases of rights abuses. That’s why the type of TRC we are setting up will include compensations for victims based on their need and circumstances. This could involve not just monetary compensations but the provision of scholarships for those who lost their parents as victims of the past regime for example,” he said.

Source: Standard Newspaper

NAWEC owed over D400M– MD Fatajo

The Managing Director of the Gambia’s national electricity supplier, the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) has said the company is owed over D400M by Parastatal and government institutions in the country.

Baba Fatajo made this revelation on Wednesday during a Press Conference at the company’s headquarters in Banjul.

The press conference was preceded by a visit by journalists to the NAWEC Kotu and Brikama stations respectively where works are ongoing for the maintenance of some generators as part of their efforts to satisfy their customers.

It could be recalled that last month, NAWEC Public Relations Officer Pierre Sylva led journalists on a tour of the two stations to see the state of the generators and start of the maintenance of the engines. Wednesday’s tour was meant to see the state of the maintenance as the same engines; some of which are now running efficiently and maintenance of others are in advance stage.

According to Fatajo, if the said amount is recovered, it will greatly help the company in one way or the other, in satisfying the customers.

“The D400M cannot solve NAWEC’s problem. Our operational cost alone is far more than what is owed to the company but it can also solve our immediate problems. The venture is capital intensive. The government does not have the resources to do it alone. There is a limit for what the government can do in terms of intervention. Therefore, public and private partnership is very important. It is for sure that even if we were paid 100 percent, we will still go to commercial banks to take money to add more services.” he said.

MD Fatajo appealed to the government institutions and parastatals to come forward and settle the arrears. He said disconnecting these institutions for not paying their bills will neither help NAWEC nor the said institutions and urged them to come forward for possibilities in settling down the bills.

“If we directly disconnect them, it is neither helping NAWEC nor them. We have to strike a deal, be each other’s keeper. We are in consultation with them to see how best they can improve on their payments” Fatajo said.

According to MD Fatajo, they have installations in key government departments, parastatals and ministries and it will be very irresponsible of NAWEC to aggressively disconnect them even if they owe the company insisting that these institutions constitute the government. He urged them to come forward and strike a deal with NAWEC on the payment mode in a more respectful way.