Archive for the ‘News’ Category

FR. EDWARD GOMEZ; (KANG KILLING) IS GUEST OF HONOR AT THIS YEARS ATLANTA SANG MARIE

July 3, 2017

Fr. Edu Gomez (KangKilling)

By Tijan Masanneh Ceesay

The President of The Gambia Christian Organization of Atlanta, Mr. Jean Marenah has revealed that Fr. Edward Gomez of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Banjul will be Chief Guest of Honor and Principal Celebrant at this year”s Sang Marie celebrations in Atlanta. Mr. Marenah was updating our reporter when he made this revelation. Fr. Edu is known for his tough sermons and preaching against the dictatorship that prevailed in The Gambia. He is fondly remembered for shattering the chains of tyranny and dictatorship in The Gambia when he went on Gambian Television and delivered his famous “Kang Killing” sermon. For many, this was a suicide mission but he never bulged and continued to call out the injustices and corruption in The Gambia. At that time, prolific Gambian writer and Journalist, Mathew K. Jallow wrote this;

“From under the ground in Brikama, like a phoenix, it rises. Its aesthetic calmness evoked a sense of Messianic reverence. And, even in its tranquil demeanor, the echoes of Fr. Gomez’s serene voice transcended the tribal and religious divides, to reverberate in the hearts and minds of Gambians; everywhere. Unsurprisingly, Fr Edu Gomez’s Sunday sermon touched on raw nerves, and gently challenged our better angels to act with sagacity and moral rectitude, as we ride out a dangerous religious fire-storm, in a country once renowned for its tolerance. The issue that grips the Gambia, this time again, is serious enough that hardly anyone is treating it with levity, and in soaking up on Fr Gomez’s dose of wisdom, the pandemonium surrounding the unilateral declaration of the Gambia’s Islamic state, a week earlier, resurfaced to nudge us into rejecting the injection of religion in the Gambia’s body politic. Suddenly, the gravity of the Gambia’s predicament was not theoretical anymore; it was real. And even as the temper of Edu Gomez’s sermon betrayed an Orwellian somberness, which spoke to the solemnity of the moment, only a few Gambians had come to grips with the precarious situation the country is plunged into. Only days earlier, a motley crew of self-serving Islamic clerics and elders had demonstrated their dangerous lack of objective rationality by lauding the surreptitious transformation of the Gambia into an exclusive Islamic hegemony, leaving other faiths in the lurch. Yahya Jammeh’s customary misuse of Islam, and abuse of Islamic clerics, to advance a political agenda, is unparalleled, but the easiness with which Muslim clerics and elders often succumb to the temptations of financial incentives and allow lust for material wealth to override their doctrinal liabilities, tantamount to dereliction of religious responsibilities.

In contrast, in this instance, the Rev Fr Gomez symbolized a check back into reality, something evidenced by an underpinning of professional insight and foresight in how draconian measure could easily degenerate in acts of violence. Fr Gomez’s reference to the tragedy in the Central African Republic, in his monologue sermon, exemplifies a contemporary historical attitude that Gambians can wrap their minds around, in order to understand the full breadth of the unintended consequences of superficial divisions of citizens, based solely on shallow, selfish political considerations. Rev Fr. Gomez’s lecture transported me back in time to another era, so long ago, sitting in church pews, listening to the booming voices of so many priests bellow out compelling canons of wisdom, but with the magic of imagination, that past was soon crowded out by the reality of the grimness of now, and the perils and the cataclysm that potentially looms over the Gambia. Unlike any other time in history, the sanctioning of inequality, based on religious belief or lack thereof, will drive a deep wedge between citizens of different faiths, and incite the resentment of a significant sub-section of the Gambian population. This intentional convergence of religion and politics has emerged as a centerpiece of the political conversation; a potential flashpoint of bigotry, intolerance and civil strife the Gambia cannot afford. Already, threats to the national security loom large in a political system built to appeal to the worst human instincts, and the tribe based politics that have haunted the majority of citizens for twenty-one long years. The implications of erecting barriers to opportunity, based on religious beliefs, are frightening to even ponder, considering how, so far, tribal preferences have relegated a section of the Gambian population to second-class citizen status, with a pent-up anger ready to explode into a political conflagration.

A cursory look at anecdotal evidence shows how seemingly innocuous hyperbole and bluster, have historically established footing, and turned the insipid into the awakening of the monsters in each of us. What makes the story of Fr Edu Gomez all the more fascinating is his emergence as a national icon, from a faraway parish, invisible behind thick shrubs and dwarfed by tall, majestic mahogany trees. The town of Brikama, Kombo North, is an unlikely place for a Catholic cleric to preach a message of wisdom to a local audience; a message that resonance at the national level, and has global reach. The adulation of Fr Edu Gomez is not limited to Catholics, as the verdict of history sets him apart from other clergies easily influenced by political access, and corruption of financial and material considerations. Fr Edu Gomez’s simple act of reverence has become a national call to reconcile with our better angels, and his moral rectitude has inadvertently turned into a national indictment of the systemic corruption of the Gambia’s Muslim clerics. The recent convergence of Muslim quacks at the State House, in demonstration of support for social stratification of Gambian society, based entirely on religious affiliation, has, for now, mainly receded into the dark depths of Gambians’ collective consciousness. An unpretentious sermon of piety in a back-yard chapel tucked innocently away behind thick shrubs and tall trees, has given rise to a new voice of reason. The towering character of Rev. Father Edward Gomez may not save the Gambia from sliding into the toxic mix religion and politics, but in this spat between religious excess and simple common sense, this man of God has illustrated how the cantankerous Islamic clerics have fallen into disrepute, as objects of political propaganda and the destruction of Gambian society. This may not be the march of the crusaders, but, it is certainly a reminder of the constant struggle to keep the Gambia united by tribe, geography and by religion.”

The Gambia Christian Organization invites all Gambians to join them in Atlanta during the weekend of 18th. of August as they welcome and celebrate one of our liberators in the person of Fr. Edward Gomez, Kang Killing!

GAMBIA: DOCTORS REFUTE ALLEGATIONS ON A ROADSIDE ACCIDENT VICTIM

June 1, 2017

Entrance to A&E section EFSH  Banjul – Photo credit: mapio.net

Allegations of medical personnel not responding to a patient of a roadside accident at the Accident and Emergency (A&E) section of a hospital in Gambia because of lack of a police report which resulted in the death of the patient have stormed social media in the past couple of days.  The story emanated from the Facebook feed of one Malima Ceesay who expressed her disdain on how medical personnel at the said hospital did not respond to a dying patient of a roadside accident because of lack of a police report. She lamented that the patient who is the sister of her best friend, a young girl was bleeding seriously from the head because of the accident was not attended to because of the absence of a police report. The report by Malima angered Gambians around the world and many people took to social media to express their outrage or disgust over the incident.  However according to reports feeding in two Doctors; Kebba S. Bojang and Khalifa Kassama have refuted such allegations.

Doctors; Kebba S. Bojang and Khalifa Kassama have both vehemently refuted the narration that the young lady was left to die because of the absence of a police report.  Both Doctors remarked that the lady in question was brought in dead (BID).  Dr. Kalipha  Kassama said he was on the ground when it all happened, when the body was brought in as a BID with a terrible head injury and because such a body can’t  be taken to the death house without any police officer witnessing that was why the issue of involving the police came in.

Dr. Kebba S. Bojang dispelled Malima Ceesay’s assertion that medical personnel present were; a nurse who spent five minutes wearing her gloves and her supposed supervisor whom the nurse consulted on the matter. He pointed out that  when the victims were brought to the A&E, not just a nurse was on the ground, there were two doctors there too; one for surgical department and another for pediatric department.  He buttressed that the said victim was brought in dead (BID) because knowing the gravity of her injuries she would have died on the spot at the scene.

Dr. Bojang went on to lament that if Malima understood the way the TRIAGE SYSTEM works at A&E, he/she would have understood why nobody had to ‘rush’ to the victim when she was brought in after the initial assessment and that the second victim who was brought in with the deceased was treated accordingly and later released to go home.

We hope that the ministry of health and the police would collaborate appropriately to maximize patient welfare and in communicating effectively to the general public to clear doubts in such kind of controversies.

 

Written by L.Nyassi, Olso

THE CHIEF JUSTICE SPEAKS FOR ME

May 30, 2017

Gambia coat of arms

By Foday Samateh

The most important news in The Gambia since the election happened last week. It’s not the Attorney General’s bombshell news briefing on the freezing of 88 bank accounts, 131 landed properties, and 14 companies belonging to or directly associated with the exiled despot. Nor was it Lawyer Awa Sisay Sabally’s applause-worthy call on President Barrow to appoint without any further delay a Vice President. It was something that didn’t receive the same level of attention as the above. Nonetheless, it was the ultimate news of this political transition.

At the national stakeholders’ conference on justice and human rights at Kairaba Beach Hotel, Chief Justice Hassan Jallow affirmed that, in the light of many amendments that could affect the 1997 Constitution (the current Constitution), the state intended to draft a new Constitution. One news outlet quoted him as saying, “There is a strong case for the drafting of a new constitution under the leadership of a new group of experts set up by the state.” Reading the words that are in bold (the emphasis are mine), I was overcome at once with ecstatic relief. With a gleeful heart and bated breath, I crowed, “Hallelujah! God bless the Chief Justice!”

Given the defects of the current Constitution and the deliberate dilutions it suffered at the behest of the upended regime, the need to draft a new one should have been an obvious foregone conclusion. The fact that it hadn’t been until the Chief Justice’s revelation should have been the biggest scandal for the new government. In the run-up to the election, the Coalition included a constitutional review in its reform agenda. The Memorandum of Understanding didn’t expound on what this ambiguous term would entail. Two things, however, implied an overhaul.
First, the central agreement of the Coalition was that their candidate for President would serve only three years in office to carry out a transition of democratic reforms, followed by a fresh election. Since that candidate was to be elected for a five-year term as required under the current Constitution, the cleanest, and probably the most legitimate and justifiable, way to accomplish this agreement would be to draft a new Constitution that would come into force in three years. With the new Constitution adopted in three years, the current one would cease to be in existence, and the current five-year term of the President would be curtailed to three years without anyone having to engage in any convoluted tampering with an already battered Constitution.

Second, almost all Coalition figures and their outspoken allies during and after the election kept promising how governing would be different in the third republic. And right after Barrow was sworn into office, the new administration began claiming that we are now in the third republic. To the extent that it matters, we aren’t in the third republic. We are still in the second republic. Barrow is the second president of the second republic. A new Constitution will usher in the third republic. An ordinary transfer of power through an election under an existing Constitution cannot ring in a republic. Otherwise, the United States would have surpassed 40 republics when it’s still in its first.

Those factors notwithstanding, the Coalition turned out to have something different in mind. Barrow, at his first press conference, after he took office, was asked if the new government planned to write a new Constitution. He responded that they would only make amendments to the current one. You can imagine my disappointment. (For me, replacing the current Constitution with one that’s far superior must be the dominant issue of this transition.)
Why the Coalition never called for a new Constitution outright defied logic. I became upset at the body as a whole, but more so at its two most influential wings. Though several opposition parties had come together to form the Coalition, the key players in real terms were UDP and PDOIS. They are also the only opposition parties with substantive but clashing positions on the current Constitution. Their rivalry over it began from the beginning of the second republic. To PDOIS, the current Constitution is essentially good, if not great. In or outside of the Coalition, PDOIS, to my knowledge, hasn’t called for a new Constitution. The party can always provide a long list of great provisions in the current Constitution in their defense of it. Nevertheless, all in all, they are wrong, but at least consistent.
To UDP, on the other hand, the current Constitution was to all intents and purposes the despot’s Constitution. All the reason their failure to call for a new Constitution demands more than the charge of inconsistence. The party’s taciturnity on the matter borders on hypocrisy. It’s rendered more unconscionable by the fact that while Barrow technically ran as an independent, his political home remained UDP. This, in addition to the fact that they were the largest party in the Coalition, gave them more sway on this question. So I was left confounded by their seemingly newfound faith in a set of amendments to remedy the current Constitution. I even wondered whether gaining power finally has given them second thoughts about reining in the imperial presidency and establishing a democracy on separation of powers with checks and balances. Why would they entrust the President with powers that they rightly didn’t want to be vested in the despot? I wondered still further if they now disagree with Lawyer Lamin J. Darboe’s erudite observation that, “Undoubtedly, [the current] Constitution permits the legal mismanagement of Gambian public life. With its hollow protections, it would still be an instrument of violence, if only potentially, even in the most benign of hands. It has no place in a proper democracy!”

The case against amendments alone goes beyond the stubborn fact that too many amendments needed to be carried out. The most obnoxious parts that must be expunged from the nation’s Constitution — paragraphs 11, 12, 13 and 14 of Schedule 2 (the so-called Indemnity Clause) — are themselves indemnified from any amendments either by the National Assembly or by a referendum thanks to paragraph 17 of the said Schedule. These paragraphs confer absolute blanket amnesty on the despot and the entire regime of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) for any decision or action they took during the military rule, which might include stealing millions from our national treasury and engaging in extra-judicial killings. Hence my utter disappointment when the Coalition stated their position on the current Constitution. It’s all too clear that amendments alone wouldn’t suffice. They wouldn’t and couldn’t undo these monstrosities of Schedule 2.

The most obscene thing about the referenced sections of Schedule 2 is its arrogance and moral turpitude. The military junta overthrew the elected government, albeit an ineffectual one. They launched multiple Commissions of Inquiry into that government in the name of “accountability, transparency, and probity.” They made so much noise about “rampant corruption” that had occurred in that government. And then, lo and behold, they turned around saying never mind all that. All Presidents, National Assemblies, and Courts must hereby be denied forever the legal authority to do to the junta what the junta did to the preceding government. Why wouldn’t they want their own example be applied to them? Why what’s good for the goose not good for the gander?

It should be noted that advocating for a new Constitution mustn’t be misunderstood as arguing for the entire current Constitution to be junked. Just as the current one largely kept the framework of the 1970 Constitution and still contained significant changes, the new one will emulate similar but nobler objective. I may even hazard a guess that the new Constitution will preserve about 70 percent of the current one. Properly done, however, the 30 percent difference will make a world of real difference between constitutional democracy and constitutional dictatorship. Let’s consider the case of the Chief Justice as an example. Whether one liked the appointment of Hassan Jallow or not, we must all bear in mind that just as Barrow appointed the justice all by himself under the current Constitution, Barrow can remove the justice anytime all by himself. The constitutional requirement that the President must consult the Judicial Service Commission is a bureaucratic waste of time by way of meaningless rigmarole. The Commission’s advice is, strictly speaking, a matter of mere formality. It’s non-binding in any shape or form. Is this what we want? For one person, however conscientious that person may be, to have that much power? And we wonder why we don’t have an independent judiciary? Presidents mustn’t consult at all any Commission whose authority is subservient to the President’s. The consultation regarding the appointment of judges should be made to the National Assembly and the National Assembly’s vote to approve or disapprove should be binding. And judges must not be removed except by impeachment for unlawful conduct. That way, judges cannot be appointed or removed whenever a President feels like it.

Even if we feel rest assured that Barrow and future Presidents would never be anything like the despot, we shouldn’t leave so much of our fate at the mercy of their discretions. For instance, Barrow’s failure or refusal to appoint a Vice President after four months in office may not be violating the letter of the Constitution, but it’s totally contrary to its spirit. It’s also not just a cavalier attitude toward complying with the law, it puts the line of succession to the highest office in the land at risk for no good reason. Worse still, appointing someone who, for whatever unfair and undemocratic requirements, is disqualified from holding the office of Vice President to oversee the Vice Presidency isn’t only a display of insouciance toward the Constitution, but also an apparent act of violating the oath to uphold the Constitution without fear, favor, affection or ill will.

Talking about not trusting people in power to always do the right thing, one of my longstanding beefs with the current Constitution is the National Assembly’s ability to amend the so-called non-entrenched clauses. Like elsewhere, our experience has shown that politicians always claim to be acting in the national interest, but, far too often, they behave on partisan motives. Even when they truly act in the national interest, such actions are hardly divorced from their partisan interests. Politicians will always be politicians. They will almost always use whatever power is at their disposal to advance their own partisan interests. The amendments to the current Constitution proved that the drafters were wrong to assign the National Assembly the power to amend the Constitution save the entrenched clauses. And the entrenched clauses cannot remain functionally sacrosanct if their force can be undermined by the amendment or abrogation of related, supporting, or underlying clauses. As the supreme law of the land, everything in the Constitution should be deemed consequential. If they are not, they shouldn’t be in the utmost law. If they are, they should be beyond the grasp of the momentary passions or partisan motives of politicians. Yes, the power to make laws is invested in the National Assembly. But the one law they must not make is the law that gives them the power to make laws. The entire Constitution must be entrenched. No clause or paragraph or even punctuation mark must be amended without a referendum. The people must have their say. That’s the only assurance to protect the Constitution from being perverted by self-serving, power-grabbing politicians.

There are many other reasons to draft a new Constitution. Among them, the current one is poorly put together. It lacks the coherence and elegance a great national document deserves. To back up this contention, I must rely once again on Lamin J Darboe’s perceptive conclusion: “In The Gambia, [the current] Constitution is devoid of serious artistic beauty due mainly to the apparent absence of any real intention to ground the polity in an objectively verifiable rule of law. This may be attributable to the fact that the political midwives of the Constitution were also present at the critical juncture of its creation. As they were interested, had absolute power, and wielded the veto, the resulting product was way short of the minimum standards a document like a national constitution must acquire to pass the requisite test of balance and neutrality, a document, so to speak, that can serve as a fitting legacy for posterity.”

It’s, therefore, gratifying to know that the new government had a change of heart. It’s also reassuring that the source of the news was the Chief Justice. And even more reassuring, he did more than share word about the plan to draft a new Constitution. He justified both the necessity and wisdom of such an undertaking. The importance of this is just too great. Monumental, in fact. That’s why the Chief Justice spoke for me. We now have the chance to establish the third republic that seeks that elusive equilibrium between security and liberty. We must institute a government that has all the power to protect the rights of the good folks of Kiang. At the same time, that government must have no power to set aside at will the rights of the good folks of Kiang. Then, we can celebrate our Constitution and our Republic.

GAMBIA: COURT ORDERS FREEZING OF ASSETS BELONGING TO FORMER PRESIDENT JAMMEH

May 22, 2017

Attorney General and Justice Minister , Ba Tambedou

The Attorney General and minister of Justice Mr. Ba Tambedu has unveiled at a press conference in Banjul that a court order is given for the freezing of assets purportedly belonging to former president Jammeh. According to minister Tambedou the freezing order affects the known properties held in the personal name of the former president or directly associated with him which includes  131 landed properties, 88 different bank accounts, 14 companies and number of livestock. The minister also urged anyone who has knowledge about  properties of the former president to make it known to the authorities. When asked by Journalist Sainey M.K Mareneh on whether the court order covers both properties in and out of the Gambia the minister responded in the negative by buttressing that the order is not interterritorial but only for properties within the jurisdiction of the Gambia. The former president of the Gambia has ruled the country like his personal property with no accountability or whatsoever. His involvement in all kinds of business is an open secret from sand mining to selling school uniforms and bread and many other businesses. Soldiers who were paid by the taxpayers’ were the ones managing his numerous farms across the country.

Many people have hailed the decision to freeze Jammeh’s assets but others queried that freezing of assets should not be limited to only the former president but should be extended to his former close aides and business partners as well. Mr. Tambedou hinted on plans to set up a commission that would properly look into the assets of the former president and to recover every butut that was lost by the country as a result of actions of the former president or his close aides. The minister also unveiled the appointment of a public prosecutor lawyer Antuman Gaye to the NIA 9 case who are being tried at the high court in Banjul for the murder of Solo Sandeng and others. Mr. Tambedou lamented on the lack of capacity being the reason behind the slow pace at which  his ministry is moving in addressing the issues at hand but he however indicated that help in building up capacity  is gradually coming from within and outside the country.

 

Written by L.Nyassi, Oslo

GAMBIA: JAINABA BAH APPOINTED AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA

May 20, 2017

Jainaba Bah newly appointed Gambia Ambassador to Russia

The wife of Gambia’s former envoy to Ethiopia Mr. M.Sarjo Jallow, Jainaba Bah has been appointed by President Barrow as Ambassador to Russia this paper can confirm. Jainaba who is based in Sweden has been very vocal against the former regime of President Jammeh and has been very instrumental in raising funds for the coalition in the run-up to 2016 elections that ushered in the current regime change. Despite her political difference with her husband who was serving under Jammeh she did not waver in campaigning against the heavy handedness of the former regime. Madame Jainaba Bah has been a revolutionist all her life from the era of the former president Jawara’s PPP regime when she was a MOJA -G militant and encountered all kinds of tortures by the then state spy agency NSS to the regime of Yaya Jammeh. Jainaba studied and worked in Sweden in a good chunk of her life. She was part of the team that organized the Stockholm-dialogue meeting in 2013 that was attended by Gambians in Scandinavia, Europe, and U.S.A to brainstorm on the way forward for Gambia. She also served briefly as a representative at the Committee for the restoration of democracy in the Gambia(CORDEG) an organization that was set up after the Raleigh diaspora conference. It was after the Fass Njaga Choi standoff of April 2015 between the UDP Caravan and state security personnel that she threw her weight behind UDP by becoming a member.

Many see the appointment of Jainaba Bah as a welcomed move and the appointment has been hailed by some on social media. Abdoulie Manneh a Gambian residing in Russia wrote on his facebook page when he got news of the appointment of Jainaba Bah as follows; “I can’t wait for the arrival of the newly appointed Gambian ambassador to Russia Jainaba Bah, it makes life a lot easier if you have your country’s embassy in the foreign country you reside in”. Ndey Jobarteh a close friend and fellow activist to Jainaba in reacting to the appointment wrote; ” She is one woman I look up to, her resilience, consistency, faith and commitment to justice and rights is inspiring. Jainaba did not end there, she showed us that we can be married and have a different political standpoint and position, yet live together. She has proven that no one can come between rights and justice, no matter what it takes one has to stand on the side of justice and rights. I salute and celebrate this phenomenal woman who kept inspiring me!! I celebrate her for her bravery and faith in Justice. I celebrate her for her fighting spirit! I celebrate her for her big heart and love she has for everyone!”. Congratulations to Jainaba on her appointment as Ambassador to Russia, looking at her track record of standing up for the collective good of our people we are hopeful that she would not betray wishes and aspirations of the heroic people of the Gambia. Good luck sister.

 

 

Written by L.Nyassi, Oslo

NATIVE NORWEGIAN WOMAN SENTENCED & FINED FOR RACIST RANTS AGAINST LAMIN SAMATEH

May 18, 2017

Lamin Samateh photo credit: NRK

One native Norwegian woman in her 30s was sentenced to a suspended jail term of 14 days and fined NOK 10, 000  by a Norwegian court for racist rants against Lamin Samateh who is of Gambian origin. The woman is reported to have directed racist verbal abuse by using the F and N words in Norwegian three times to Mr.Samateh. The incident happened at a Kebab shop in 2015 in Porsgrunn, the town where Lamin is residing.  The woman repeatedly rained racist insults on Lamin as he and a friend  were  coming out of the Kebab shop. The incident was reported to the police and after a short investigation the case was dropped but Mr.Samateh filed a fresh complaint and the matter was taken to the courts, were the victim and his attorney fought and won the case. According him he pursued the case to the end in order to set an example because he has a daughter in Norway and does not want her  to face the same kind of racist verbal abuse or discrimination. Reacting to verdict Mr. Samateg said he thinks it is good because it would help people like this woman to learn to be better persons.

The case has sparked debate in Norway about the use of the N word , some say it is within the confines of free speech others say it depends on the manner in which it is used. Anti racism organizations hailed the verdict against the woman arguing that the act is a clear violation of the Norwegian General Penal Code Paragraph 185 on hate speech and the fact that  she used the words spontaneously for three times shows the severity of the matter. The woman and her attorney have appealed against the ruling but the chances of overturning the verdict are very slim because of the repeated racist rantings orchestrated by the Norwegian Woman.
Written by L. Nyassi , Oslo

BUILDING THE GAMBIA: STOP THE CHINESE COMPANY DESTROYING OUR FUTURE IN GAMBIA

May 17, 2017

 Hazardous waste disposal into the Atlantic ocean by Chinese Company

By Madi Jobarteh

A severe national security threat is unfolding in Gunjur, the hometown of the Majority Leader Kebba K Barrow. There is a Chinese company engaged in fishmeal production, which dumps its waste and dead fish along the coastline and neighboring communities. The factory releases intense bad odour making people sick as well as destroying our fish reserves and polluting the waters. This is a direct threat to the lives and livelihoods of the people of Gunjur, Kombo and the Gambia as a whole. Yet this company called Golden Leaf Factory continues to operate unchecked by the Government since last year until today, four months into the administration of Adama Barrow. Why?

Two Chinese, Robin and Jojo run the factory without any Gambian partners and under no check by any authority. They produce fishmeal or fish oil, which is made out of fish and used to feed poultry, pigs and other farmed fish. According to FAO fishmeal production is a major contributor to over-fishing and prevents fish from replenishing themselves thereby causing the collapse of local fisheries. This is because the fish used for fishmeal are small fishes like the ones our fishermen catch in Gunjur, Kartong, Tanji, Bakau or Banjul. After almost depleting their fish resources in China, now Chinese fishmeal companies have turned to West Africa and South America causing havoc in countries like Senegal, Chile and Peru. Experts have noted that fishmeal is a source of terrible environmental damage and human suffering.

So far Golden Leaf Factory is engaged in over-fishing in Gunjur and Kartong and destroying the coastline as well as the Bolongfehyoto wildlife reserve. The bad and dangerous odour the factory releases into the community is unbearable. Experts have noted that the factory right now threatens the productivity of sea grass, which marine turtles feed on. They also threaten the mangrove ecosystem because of the chemical waste they dump. This factory is therefore a threat to tourism and the economy of the Gambia. What is even more disheartening is that the fish they catch is not used for human consumption. Rather they use it to make fishmeal for animals all the way in China! But they are ready to destroy our lives all the way in the Gambia.

Who gave this company license to operate in the Gambia in the first place? Was there any social and environmental impact assessments done before they were awarded the license? Why would the responsible and relevant agencies of the government sit down to allow such abuse of the lives and future of the Gambia to take place with impunity?

Where is the National Assembly, the Ministries of Fisheries and Water Resources, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Trade, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Tourism, the NEA, NDMA, GIEPA and GTB and indeed the Police? All these agencies have a direct responsibility and stake in any activity that negatively impacts on the lives, livelihoods and future of the Gambia. Yet they all sit there watching a foreign company plunder our lives and livelihoods for free! What about GCCI? Are they not aware of this practice by this company and what actions have they taken to ensure decent and responsible practices by businesses in the country?

I therefore call on the Speaker of the National Assembly Mariam Denton and her deputy Momodou Sanneh and the Majority Leader Kebba K Barrow and the Monitory Leader Samba Jallow and indeed all National Assembly Members to institute a parliamentary enquiry into this matter. Failure to do so, the National Assembly would be failing in their sacred duty to the Gambia. This matter is 100% within the powers and authority of the National Assembly to address and they must address it now. Golden Leaf Factory is destroying our lives and livelihoods with impunity!

I call on Chief Servant Adama Barrow to demand his relevant ministries and state agencies to act on this matter with urgency. The ocean is a major source of life and livelihood for the communities of Kombo and the Gambia as a whole. Tourism alone account for 21.9% of our GDP and providing 18.8% of jobs in the country hence the ocean is a precious product of this industry that must be protected. Thus any threat to the ocean affects thousands of Gambians for employment and for food. Why therefore would this company be given license to damage our future and lives with impunity?

The Gambia Government and indeed all African governments must be wary of Chinese companies. This is because the Chinese have proven to the world and Africa in particular that they do not care about human rights, human life and human health in their quest to greedily consume resources around the world. Chinese companies have engaged in unscrupulous and dangerous business practices even in China, how about in faraway tiny Gambia? China has a population of 1.3 billion people and a land size of 9.5 million square kilometers. The Gambia has a population of only 2 million and a land size of 11 thousand square kilometers. Hence what China can afford and waste the Gambia cannot afford that. Therefore we must not allow any foreign company especially from China to come to the Gambia to damage the lives and future of our people. If this is what GIEPA considers to be foreign investment then they are dangerously mistaken!

Whichever government agency gave license to this company must be exposed and held to account. It is clear that they have failed to do an impact assessment or merely ignored the results of such assessment if they did. Secondly this agency has failed to monitor this Chinese company in order to protect the vital interests of the Gambia. This company must not have been allowed to operate in the country at all. They must be closed down! Now.

I therefore call on all Gambians to rise up against this Chinese company and put pressure on the government to expose the truth about the license, the kind of business, the operations and management of this company. What has the Gambia benefited from them? How much money are they making in the Gambia? What damages have done so far? We need to know these issues and make sure they repair all the damages they caused and then close them down. Golden Leaf Factory poses a clear and direct threat to national security.

Gambian journalists should rush down to Gunjur and Kartong and report to us on matters that directly affect our lives. News is not only in Banjul and Serre Kunda. How come such a dangerous environmental, social and economic disaster is taking place in Gunjur since last year yet our journalists could not give it the publicity it deserves! Wake up Gambian Journalists!

Rise up Gambians and do not let our country to continue as usual since Independence. We deserve a better Gambia. We deserve better leadership and good government that is open, efficient and responsive to our needs, in the present and in the future.

#CloseDownGoldenLeafFactory

God Bless The Gambia.