Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

“PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH!!! SCRAP THE BILL AND CONSULT THE OPPOSITION”-FOROYAA TELLS GAMBIA’S ROGUE REGIME

July 2, 2015
Reads :447
Gambia's autocratic leader asked to practice he preach but will he listen?

Gambia’s autocratic leader asked to practice what he preach but will he listen?

When the crisis in Guinea Bissau erupted, The Gambia Government took the posture of a mediator and was counselling the opponents to put national interest before partisan or tribal interest. Now the government is bent on carrying out its own agenda for electoral reform without consultation with other stakeholders.

The Bill  aimed at imposing a Million dalasi fee for registration of political  parties  which are not supported by state funds is seen as an attempt to stifle opposition parties  in the name of promoting the birth of more organised parties . In actual fact it is promoting more patronage in party formation and maintenance.  It is a means of consolidating decadence in politics as people spend more only to ask more of the tax payers’ money to recover electoral investments after victory.

In the same vein, the raising of non refundable deposits is seen as a sign of stifling democracy and genuine multi party contest.

Foroyaa will continue to monitor the next step. Will the National Assembly members pass the Bill? The future will tell and history will inform posterity who did what.

source: Foroyaa newspaper

Where It’s Wrong…Our Path To Making It Right!

June 27, 2015
Reads :638
SIR DAWDA JAWARA

SIR DAWDA JAWARA

TO-LEH MANSA JAMMEH

TO-LEH MANSA JAMMEH

Our politics is centered on elections. The underlying assumption is we are a democracy. This isn’t true! Jawara has commingled PPP and state to gained undue political advantage. He has also appointed his political representatives at each division as his Election Returning Officers. Yahya also commingled A(F)PRC and state and even claimed personal ownership of state. He on the other hand appointed one Election Commission that he fires and hires as he wish. Both exert similar control over the local administrative structure thereby dictating the very nucleus of our society. In this formulae there can be only one outcome – the one in power will always win with the seeming will of the electorates.

The problems are not necessarily Jawara and/or Yahya as it is the system that gave them an unlimited and unchecked power. The sustenance of that increasing executive power (dictatorship) is the direct result of no/limited political education of our citizens. We create these men – simply listen to what Jalamang Keita, late Chief of Niani told Jawara in one of those Meet The Farmers Tour, what late EK Sarr, wrote about Jawara being the Jesus Christ of Gambia and the behavior of our supposed political elites on the retirement announcement of Jawara at MansaKonko. The same is true on Yahya – listened to Dembo Santang Bojang’s (Chief of Brikama), ‘remain in power even if we (people of The Gambia) eat grass’.

Under the current political disposition regardless of who assumed power and through what means, the likely outcome is a continuation of dictatorship. Sure the dictatorship of different individuals will likely be different based on their personality and lust for power. The tried strategies of elections, coup and/or Yahya dying will not deliver democracy at our shores. The best they could do is a new president.

After 50 (or 20) years we need a different approach. This is if our goal is making our nation ‘A FUNCTIONING INSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY’. Lets go after the underlying problems. Any gaining’s in that endeavor will by definition take care of all the effects and make us a functioning democracy.

What’s the underlying political problem of The Gambia? Simply we’re NOT A DEMOCRACY but only in name. To make Gambia ‘A Functioning Institutional Democracy’ would require ‘A CITIZEN’S POLITICAL REVOLUTION’. That wouldn’t happen in a vacuum; it has to come from us with some guidance of visionary leadership(s) with wisdom. Here are basic of that approach:

  1. A National Face’ (an organization that represent us and put forth a democratic transformation agenda)

  1. A National Democracy Agenda’ – our goal breakdown programmatically

  1. Organize/Mobilize Our Citizens – both inside and outside of Gambia our citizens are educated and rally behind such a nationalistic cause (not parties or groups, tribes, etc.)

  1. Lobby The International Community – for moral, political and financial support that gave us leverage to push back authorities in Banjul to capitulate to our demands for reforms

  1. Unadulterated Capacity Building of Our Citizens – to educate our citizens on (I)ndepedence (R)epublic (D)emocracy (IRD).

What’s a democracy Agenda? Examples are:

  1. Constitutional Reform/Overhaul – more importantly mechanisms to the adherences to the constitution as is

  1. Bill Of Rights

  2. Elections and Elections Management

  3. Impartial Justice Administration and Due Processes of Law

  4. Separation of Powers

  1. Decentralization of Governance – delineate authority between Banjul, Regions, Districts, Villages, Wards, etc. with defined and delineated authorities

  1. Cultivate Circular Democracy Culture – this is an unadulterated civic education where the very definitions of IRD are explained to the citizens and their unlimited role as the sovereign. This goes further to ensure each citizen is capable of living a democratic lifestyle hence equip with skills and know-how to check government excesses.

This is the call The People’s Movement For Democratic Gambia (tpmdg) is making on every Gambia. Visit us a www.movementfordemocraticgambia.org. Join us to advance this CAUSE. There is no limit to your participation – you maybe become a functionary, an advocate, a member, etc. based on your own desires, interests and expertise. We are not and will not be the National Face but facilitators, educators, organizers, mobilizers, fund raisers, etc. This doesn’t require you to abandon your party, group/organization, tribe, etc. but simply working together on ‘Our COMMONALITIES’ as citizens of that NATION.

Public opinion matters in a democracy but Gambia is a monocracy. We can express ourselves as much as we want that autocrat in Banjul wouldn’t care. What he will understand and care is an equal or more opposing force. With our union plus the support of the free world we can over time garner enough political leverage that will cause his capitulation. We don’t have guns to fight this battle. Even if we do or have others to do – can we really trust them? Any use of force in Africa ended in worst governance than their predecessors including Yahya’s. In addition many came with untold human suffering with long lasting negative impact. We can save Gambia from going down that lane by civilly managing our political transformation on our very own terms.

For The Gambia, Our Homeland………..To The Gambia Ever True

Burama FL Jammeh

General Secretary

The People’s Movement For Democratic Gambia

810 626 3924

CHALLENGE AGE DISCRIMINATION IN GAMBIAN POLITICS

June 27, 2015
Reads :337
 JUSTICE FOR THE OPPRESED

JUSTICE FOR THE OPPRESED

A VOICE OF REASON

A VOICE OF REASON

By Sarjo Bayang

Gambians are very easily baffled by loud pronouncements usually without second thought. That is exactly what is happening with the case of age discrimination against capable and seasoned political good hands being made redundant on flimsy excuses of age barrier.

The situation requires properly focused rethinking and you are being challenged to do just that.

Who set the age barrier?

It was not Gambian people that agreed on discriminating any section of society to seek political office by informed choice on basis of age, sex, or ethnic orientation. This whole idea of preventing highly experienced good political genius of society using age as barrier came about soon after the illegal invasion by current president by staging a coup on 22 July 1994.

People of Gambia have not been given opportunity through vigorous stakeholder consultation for them to make informed choice about matters regarding age, wealth, or personal records. It was a coup that swept away everything leaving people with no choices.

How it all started

Afraid about what happens if experienced politicians were given chance to contest him as faked retired soldier, Yaya Jammeh at the time had no chance to win clean elections.

On grounds of such fears he came up with the slogan “we don’t want old pa, we want a young president.” At the time that was to compare between him and Lawyer Ousainou Darbo of united Democratic Party UDP who already posed serious threat in sweeping the elections even with all the obstacles. Hon Omar Jallow commonly called OJ was still very popular and could also win any free and fair elections as presidential candidate was equally targeted.

That election was heavily rigged including voters from Cassamance North of Senegal comprising mainly Jola ethnic group paying allegiance to a member of same social grouping Yaya Jammeh, that they already identified as coming to be king of the region.

To consolidate his grips on power Jammeh through some corrupt legal dupes carved the age barrier as part of limitations against experienced politicians.

The whole idea has been and still is that everything being done to ensure that people targeted for this age discrimination be prevented from winning successive elections until they reach that dark- age to be disqualified.

Was there any age limit to becoming Head of State when Yaya Jammeh along his cohorts staged that unwelcome coup on 22 July 1994? They invaded at no invitation by Gambian people and broke down all laws, the constitution, governance structure, and every tenet of orderly dispensation as required by responsible handling of public office.

Playing in crooked hands of the devil

Now that it has come clear how Jammeh and some unjust legal opportunists carved the way to keep him in power at all cost, should Gambians not go for a rethink of this whole matter.

To let this age barrier stick on without bulldozing it out amount to playing in crooked hands of the devil. This was a wild game played for sinister purposes.

By now, Yaya Jammeh is no longer the youth president he sought to win by. Besides he failed Gambian people so badly that keeping him there or permitting his participation in next and future elections is very much unsuitable; equally dangerous for Gambia.

What sense is there in observing a rule that disqualifies one set of potential candidates by age discrimination and leaving out Yaya Jammeh who says he will rule for “one billion years”? Who is fooling and who are being fooled? This does not add up at all.

Golden age is bank of wisdom

What Gambians have to remember and everyone seems ignoring is the fact that there is huge reserve of political genius loaded with great wisdom sitting with those the nation is duped into throwing away just because of frivolous age barriers based on no good reason.

If Gambia is to recover from the current quagmire running in last 20 dark years with the clock still tocking, it takes seasoned and capable politicians who committed all their most useful energies standing by the nation in thick and thin.

Of course any other persons of interest can join the political arena but not at the high risk of playing in the hands of another novice. There is nothing like political old woods especially at this crucial stage.

Gambia requires smooth and orderly succession plan. Putting the nation in the hands of brand new players is not readily feasible, therefore not sustainable in the short or long run. The teething period can be excruciating. This situation needs experienced good hands until they gracefully choose to retire. New entrants still have occasion to step in to be part of a succession effect.

To bar anyone on age discrimination terms is unjust. Already there are people working with the military regime of Jammeh who are older than Omar Jallow, OJ, Ousainou Darbo, Halifa Sallah, Sidia Jatta or anyone that may be considered being laid off on grounds of age. That is risky business. The country needs experienced hands and letting them go just because the military junta wanted it that way is political mass suicide.

Discrimination is dictatorship

Considering how this whole scheme of discrimination began and the way it almost passes on without subjecting it to scrutiny it all amounts to dictatorship everyone is crying they never want.

It is up to every citizen to take up interest and serve in responsible public position including political office. They all have rights to offer such services. It will be seen too discriminatory and dictating to tell a decent member of society not to participate in politics due to age, sex, social grouping or religion.

Gambians should have stopped Yaya Jammeh from taking up the important post of leading the nation for he had (still has) nothing to offer as bargaining power to occupy that position. That still remains the most critical error in Gambian politics needing good fix. It is more serious as Jammeh continues to threaten he will stay in power up to “one billion years”.

Of course Jammeh will not live for anything more than 100 years even by exception to rule of life expectancy in Gambia. What he means is simply that he will misrule until death parts him with the seat of power. What age will that be if the prayers of those who wished he lives longer become his luck in life?

Settling for total inclusion in politics

In view of encouraging political pluralism it is unjust to set barriers to entry on grounds of age, sex, religion, or social grouping.

Setting age barriers has been a scheme by the Jammeh junta regime as way of wasting time of experienced politicians until they become inactive. There is no word from anyone of the experienced politicians that they no longer wish to stay on serving the nation.

It is time to rethink and provide for total inclusion from all brackets of society. You have a duty to challenge discrimination in any form. This frivolous barrier to wholesome political inclusion based on age limit is pure discrimination. How can there be upper age limit at exit without lower limit at entry point? Everything that AFPRC and the junta introduced in Gambian politics is unfit for use.

This age barrier is unsuitable and needs to be scrapped for good reasons.

REFERENDUM SEASON: ILLIBERALISM COLLIDES WITH CONSTITUTIONAL ENTRENCHMENT

June 22, 2015
Reads :378
Author: Lamin J. Darbo

Author: Lamin J. Darbo

By Lamin J Darbo

In light of the November 2014 full bench Supreme Court decision in Colonel Lamin Bo Badjie & 6 Others and the State (SC Crim. Appeal No: 1-7/2011), there is now legal certainty about when a court in The Gambia can impose a death sentence. For the first time, the Supreme Court abandoned its denial and embraced the clear command of section 18(2) of The 1997 Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia (the Constitution) that except where a crime involves “violence”, or “the administration of any toxic substance, resulting in the death of another person”, no court is competent to impose or maintain a death sentence. Specifically, section 18(2) states: “As from the coming into force of the Constitution, no court in The Gambia shall be competent to impose a sentence of death for any offence unless the sentence is prescribed by law and the offence involves violence or the administration of any toxic substance, resulting in the death of another person”.

Apparently aggrieved by the Supreme Court decision in Colonel Lamin Bo Badjie & 6 Others and the State, the Executive proposes to amend section 18(2) of the Constitution by removing the critical restraint of causing “the death of another person” through “violence”, or “the administration of any toxic substance”. In other words, the Executive wants to give itself the power to impose the death penalty as it pleases, and for any crime, no matter how trivial. Given its routine disregard for the rule of law, and its bewildering propensity to use the courts as a tool for settling political scores through baseless prosecutions, no person in control of his or her faculties can travel with the Executive on its proposed death penalty journey. The good news is that section 18(2) is an entrenched provision and lawfully amendable only via the very restrictive procedural safeguard of a referendum. Even better, section 18(2) cannot be amended in isolation given the Constitutional command that the death penalty itself must be subjected to a referendum by 16 January 2007 at the very latest. To amend 18(2), there must be another referendum on whether the death penalty should be maintained. A referendum on section 18(2) can only be lawful after a “yes” vote in a referendum on section 18(3) which reads: “The National Assembly shall within ten years from the date of the coming into force of this Constitution review the desirability or otherwise of the total abolition of the death penalty in The Gambia”. More on this in a separate piece!

But why do I contend we are in “referendum season”? If the Executive ploughs along with its proposed amendments to the Elections Act, it must conduct at least three referenda on different questions in that area alone, and before the general elections slated for 2016. According to Foroyaa (17 June 2015) online edition, the Government is planning to “introduce a bill which would make it a requirement for Presidential Candidates to deposit a non refundable fee of 1 Million Dalasis instead of a refundable fee of 10,000 Dalasis if one has 40 percent of the votes. If the bill is passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the President, candidates during National Assembly would pay a non refundable fee of 100,000 Dalasis instead of a refundable fee of Five Thousand Dalasis if one has 20 percent of the votes cast”.

In this same issue, Foroyaa also quoted NRP leader Hamat N K Bah as saying “the proposed amendment of this Principal Act i.e. Section 43 is seeking to the raise the amounts from Ten Thousand Dalasi to 1 Million Dalasi for the deposit of a presidential candidate; from Five Thousand Dalasi to One Hundred Thousand Dalasi for a Member of the National Assembly”.

In an editorial 19 June 2015, The Point Newspaper lamented that parties must “pay a non-refundable amount of D1 million to have the candidature of their presidential candidate endorsed in each presidential election. Previously, it was only D10,000. Just like presidential candidates, parliamentary candidates have to ‘deposit’ D100,000 instead of D5,000 to contest in elections”. The media and opposition parties are watching the wrong gates! As far as lawfulness is the core issue, the proposed measures are, as the saying goes, dead on arrival.

There is clearly no need to panic over the proposed amendments to the Elections Act considering the most critical of them cannot take place without mandatory referenda. These are cases of illiberalism colliding with Constitutional entrenchment. The fundamental point to note on the architecture of entrenchment is that the National Assembly has no unilateral capacity to amend an entrenched Constitutional provision. It can only validly act in collaboration with the electorate, that is, through a referendum, a “yes” or “no” vote on a particular question of public significance. In that regard, the opposition parties must undergo sincere soul-searching as all these battles are winnable where there is a serious united front committed to defeating the illiberal and needless measures of the Executive. As argued by various commentators time and again, a fragmented opposition is no match for a powerful incumbent committed to lifetime rule. According to section 42 (2) of the Elections Act, “a candidate for election to the office of:- (a) President shall be nominated in the prescribed Form 1 of Part A of the Fourth Schedule by not less than five thousand voters whose names appear in the register of voters, with at least two hundred voters being drawn from each Administrative Area; (b) Member of the National Assembly shall be nominated in the prescribed Form 1 of Part B of the Fourth Schedule by not less than three hundred voters whose names appear in the register of voters for the constituency for which he or she seeks to be elected”

At section 43 (1) of the Elections Act, “a candidate shall, at the time he or she delivers his or her nomination paper to the Returning Officer for election to the office of:- (a) President, deposit or cause to be deposited with the Returning Officer, the sum of ten thousand dalasis (b) Member of the National Assembly, deposit or cause to be deposited with the Returning Officer, the sum of five thousand dalasis”

By section 44(1) of the Elections Act, “a deposit paid in accordance with section 43 shall be returned to the candidate if:- (c) In a contested election in relation to:- (i) The election of a President, he or she obtains not less than forty per cent of the votes cast for the elected candidate (ii) National Assembly elections he or she obtains twenty per cent of the votes cast for the elected candidate As it stands, the above Elections Act provisions would represent the law if the Constitution is silent on the particular questions.

However, the Constitution, at section 47 expressly states that “a candidate for election to the office of President shall, on or before nomination day:- (a) Satisfy the Commission that his or her nomination is supported by not less than five thousand registered voters consisting of not less than two hundred from each administrative area, as signified by their signatures or otherwise (b) Deposit with the Commission such sum as may be prescribed by the Elections Act or any Act of the National Assembly replacing or amending that Act, which shall be returned if he or she receives not less than forty per cent of the valid votes cast at the election

In addition to the above Constitutional provisions on elections as they relate to the presidency, section 26 of the Constitution states that “every citizen of The Gambia of full age and capacity shall have the right without unreasonable restrictions (a) to take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives (b) to vote and stand for elections at genuine periodic elections for public office, which elections shall be by universal and equal suffrage and be held by secret ballot”

I cannot overemphasize that with the Constitution, and inferior statutory law in the mould of the Elections Act speaking on the same issue, the former reigns supreme. It wins conclusively, pursuant to the supremacy clause at section 4 of the Constitution. Section 4 categorically states that the “Constitution is the supreme law of The Gambia and any other law found to be inconsistent with any provision of this Constitution shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void”. Sections 47 and 26 of the Constitution override all provisions of the Elections Act, and it is therefore the Constitution that must be amended as far as the impending illiberal elections-related proposals by the Executive. Tinkering with the Elections Act is a mere exercise in futility! It gets even more daunting for the Executive.

As entrenched provisions, section 47 and 26 are amendable only via the restrictive procedure delineated at Section 226 of the Constitution, which states: “(2) Subject to subsection (4), a Bill for an Act of the National Assembly under this section shall not be passed by the National Assembly or presented to the President for assent unless- (a) Before the first reading of the Bill in the National Assembly, the Bill is published in at least two issues of the Gazette, the latest publication being not less than three months after the first, and the Bill is introduced into the National Assembly not earlier than ten days after the latest publication, and (4) A Bill for an Act of the National Assembly altering any of the provisions referred to in subsection (7) shall not be passed by the National Assembly or presented to the President for assent unless- (a) the Bill is published and introduced in the manner required by paragraph (a) of subsection (2), (b) The Bill is supported on the second and third readings by the votes of not less than three quarters of all the members of the National Assembly, (c) the Bill has been referred by the Speaker to the Independent Electoral Commission and the Commission has within six months of such reference, held a referendum on the Bill; and (d) at least fifty percent of the persons entitled to vote in the referendum have taken part in the referendum and the Bill is supported in the referendum by at least seventy five percent of those who voted (7) Subsection (4) applies to- (a) this section; (e) Chapter IV (which provides for the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms) (f) sections 39(1), 42(1), 47 (which relate to elections and the Independent Electoral Commission)”.

Therefore, on the non-refundability of the presidential nomination deposit, a mandatory referendum must take place to vary the forty per cent deposit refund threshold at section 47 of the Constitution. The non-refundability proposal is unconstitutional per se. As it currently stands, section 44(1)(d)(i) of the Elections Act is unconstitutional in so far as it stipulates that to be due a deposit refund, a candidate must obtain at least “forty percent of the votes cast for the elected candidate”. The stipulated Constitutional requirement is “not less than forty per cent of the valid votes cast at the election”.

Only five thousand people, two hundred per administrative area, are required to nominate a presidential candidate. Any attempt to vary these figures is unconstitutional per se and must go to a mandatory referendum. On the utterly egregious and illiberal hiking of the deposit figure from ten thousand dalasis to one million dalasis, there is no suggestion that the Independent Electoral Commission cannot vary the figures, but it must do so within the bounds of reasonability. However, to hike the presidential nomination amount from ten thousand dalasis to one million dalasis is utterly unreasonable. It has no beneficial public purpose and must be rejected wholesale. There is no basis for it, embodies unreasonableness and violates section 26, an entrenched Constitutional provision. The proposed amendment, and all those related to the National Assembly, may be challenged at the High Court for unconstitutionality, and for a declaration that they must be subjected to a referendum for violating section 26, an entrenched Constitutional provision.

The lament of the opposition leaders is meaningless without a serious commitment to forging a united front against the incumbent in the mandatory referenda that must take place for these illiberal measures to pass the test of lawfulness. Need we remind them for the thousandth time that a fragmented opposition is no match for an illiberal incumbent! I reiterate that none of the proposed amendments to the Elections Act can become law without a referendum on each question. The Executive’s legal advisers went to sleep over these pivotal questions. I wonder if the opposition leaders are about to join the nap fest. The ball, as they say, lies squarely in the court of the opposition parties! Remain disunited and perish in the process!

DOLLAR POWER: JAMMEH’S SINISTER PATH TO A SINGLE PARTY STATE

June 21, 2015
Reads :544
Author: Dr. Baba Galleh Jallow

Author: Dr. Baba Galleh Jallow

By Baba Galleh Jallow

Traditionally, African dictators have imposed single-party states either by issuing an order banning all other parties, or by passing law in rubber stamp parliaments legitimizing the imposition of single party states. Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh, who has fast assumed the status of Africa’s most callous dictator, has devised a novel and particularly sinister plot designed to turn the country into a single party state in all but name. We may call his sinister method Dollar Power – the imposition of exorbitant fees for all who desire to seek political office in The Gambia.

According to a report published in the online version of The Standard newspaper of June 17, 2015, the country’s Independent Electoral Commission is proposing an amendment to the Elections Act to the Gambian National Assembly that will increase the required deposit for aspiring presidential candidates from 10, 000 dalasi to one million dalasi. According to Hamat Bah, leader of the National Reconciliation Party, the proposed amendment also increases the deposit for National Assembly candidates from 5000 to 100, 000 dalasi, the deposit for mayoral candidates from 2500 to 25000 dalasi and the deposit for council ward candidates from 1250 to 10000 dalasi. What these particular amendments mean is that only a very rich party, such as the ruling APRC, can potentially afford to contest the elections, at least the presidential and National Assembly elections. One doubts whether any of the existing opposition parties in The Gambia possess the dollar power to fund their presidential, parliamentary and all other candidates under this regime in the upcoming 2016 general elections.

There is absolutely no doubt that the Independent Electoral Commission’s draconian amendment proposals come directly from Yahya Jammeh. This not only confirms that the Electoral Commission is directly under the control of Yahya Jammeh, it also shows the extent of Jammeh’s callousness in dealing with dissenting Gambian citizens. Since imposing the single party state through executive decree or an act of the National Assembly could potentially spark riots against him, Jammeh is using dollar power to elbow everyone else out of The Gambia’s electoral politics. There is little doubt that the proposed amendments will be approved by the APRC controlled National Assembly.

One wonders whether the leadership of other political parties in The Gambia will allow this sinister plot to proceed as planned by Yahya Jammeh. One hopes that they will not. In the event they want to oppose and defeat this sinister conspiracy, they might consider three (or more) courses of action. They could file suit in the Gambian courts and hope for a miracle judgment in their favor. They could mobilize their supporters and stage mass protests against the sinister plot. Or they could create a temporary coalition, pool their resources, and finance their candidates for the 2016 elections under the new draconian electoral dispensation. It seems to me that the coalition option is particularly appealing and stands a very good chance of ending the dictatorship of Yahya Jammeh.

While there might be other issues that have prevented the emergence of a comprehensive political coalition against the Jammeh dictatorship, one has a sense that one of the biggest sticking points is the issue of who leads the coalition. I suggest that this particular obstacle may be removed if the parties can agree to select an independent candidate for the primary purpose of defeating Jammeh, to serve a maximum period of one or two years or whatever time is agreed upon, and during this time to oversee a comprehensive regime of electoral and other reforms. The coalition leadership will then oversee the conduct of an election in which the individual constitutive party leaders will contest. We hope and pray that our political leaders will consider this coalition – or other viable options – seriously in the event that the IEC’s proposed amendments are approved by the National Assembly, which in reality is Yahya Jammeh’s personal assembly.

UDP Leader Reacts to Expulsion of EU Representative

June 20, 2015
Reads :690
 “THE EXPULSION OF MS. AGNES GUILLAUD, EU REP TO THE GAMBIA, NOT IN OUR NAMES”- Lawyer Ousainou Darboe

“THE EXPULSION OF MS. AGNES GUILLAUD, EU REP TO THE GAMBIA, NOT IN OUR NAMES”- Lawyer Ousainou Darboe

The leader of the United Democratic Party(UDP) in the Gambia has reacted to the recent expulsion of EU representative . EU representative to the Gambia Ms. Agnes Guillaud  was given persona non grata and asked to leave the country within 72hrs without advancing any reason whatsoever. In a press release sent out to media houses the UDP leader Lawyer Ousainou Darboe described the action of the Gambia government as shocking and dastardly.  He unequivocally stated that the Expulsion Ms. Guillad is not in the name of the Gambian people. Below is the full length of the UDP press release:

For almost two weeks now, The Gambia has been on international spotlight for all the wrong reasons. First was the President’s repulsive statement to slit the throat of homosexuals….a worrying demonstration by a leader who continually threatens violence against defenseless Gambians without recourse to the rule of law. Then came the expulsion of the EU Representative to The Gambia Ms. Agnes Guillaud, who was given 72 hours to leave the country. As if these were not enough, news started coming in just a few days ago that a private company (West African Aquaculture), engaged in inland fish farming, has been seized or expropriated.
 
The United Democratic Party (UDP) see these and many other dastardly actions of Yahya Jammeh and his regime as part of the worrying deterioration of the broader human rights situation in the Gambia as well as signals of weakening business climate in The Gambia – all of which are inimical to supporting the restoration of donor and investor confidence in the country.  In a world where no country can claim to be an island, this is rather worrisome to all those who cherish national pride and wisdom.
 
The UDP is particularly shocked by the expulsion of Ms. Agnes Guillaud as EU Representative to The Gambia. We view this decision by the government as unnecessary, ill-advised, and an amateurish diplomatic behaviour by a leadership who still runs The Gambia synonymously as an angry, rag-tag, and failed barracks-commander.
 
The European Union has been one of the largest donor partners of the Gambia, providing over $72 million dollars in subsidies alone, from 2008 to 2013, quite apart from the provision of significant resources for the country’s infrastructural development. By expelling their diplomatic Representative without going through the normal due diligence procedures is very likely to have adverse consequences on the Gambia as a nation.
 
All throughout The Gambia’s development history, the EU has been instrumental in the sustenance and viability of countless projects supportive of The Gambia’s socio-economic development. For a very long time, quite apart from the development finance wing of the EU (the European Development Fund (EDF)), other major development-support organizations (NGOs alike) have been securing their funding from the EU to provide educational, infrastructural, medical, agricultural and social safety net support to The Gambian people. These institutional and charitable services rendered – with thanks to EU complementary financial support – continue to be catalysts for enhancing the quality of life for many people in the Gambia.
 
It is against this backdrop that the UDP view the dramatic expulsion of Ms. Guillaud as lacking in courtesy and reason, as well as a show of ungratefulness at the very least.
 
But for far too long, the EU’s quiet diplomacy over the years had given President Yahya Jammeh and his government ample ammunition to get away with a series of erratic and unreasonable behaviour, including denying detained EU nationals consular assistance, seizing and annexing private companies belonging to EU nationals (Alimenta, and most recently West African Aquaculture), coupled with his regular issuance of rhetoric threats against the EU.  Now if there is anything, the expulsion of Ms. Guillaud should serve as a red alter to the EU that The Gambian President has crossed all reasonable boundaries of orderly diplomatic protocol.
 
The foundation of Jammeh’s politics is itself based on pretence, otherwise called reluctant-democracy. It is the state of being pressed by the international community, public opinion, negative publicity into conceding to its artificialities while loathing it profoundly. Jammeh loves the display of the façade of democracy as much as he hates its essence, pretending to be committed to it while despising it thoroughly
 
As I concluded my political tour of the Greater Banjul Area, we are reminded of the all-too-familiar story of enforced disappearance of innocent people under state custody, exercise of widespread brutality on and torture of suspects and perceived political opponents. All throughout my political tour, I have made an uncompromising case for The Gambia government to release the minors and parents of the 30th December 2014 alleged ‘coupists’.  It is against natural justice to hold a sibling or parent of an accused to account for the alleged crime of his or her immediate relative. We will continue to demand for the release of these innocent people, and we will not rest until they are finally reunited with their families.
 
Please repeat after me “THE EXPULSION OF MS. AGNES GUILLAUD, EU REP TO THE GAMBIA, NOT IN OUR NAMES”
 
For the next one week, I want you the good people of The Gambia to upload this positing on our respective social media.
 
Finally, I wish to take this opportunity to wish The Gambian people, friends of The Gambia and the entire Muslim Ummah RAMADAN MUBARAK
Long Live The United Democratic Party
Long Live The Republic of The Gambia
 
Ousainu A. N. M. Darboe
Secretary General & Party Leader 

“Muslim Americans are better educated, work as professionals and are among top earners”, While UK Muslims are the biggest charity donors in the Queen’s Land

June 19, 2015
Reads :423

 

Author: Lamin Sabally

Author: Lamin Sabally

By Lamin Sabally- Minneapolis, Minnesota

Muslim Americans are better educated, mostly work as professionals and are among top income earners compared to Muslims is Europe, especially France, Germany and Great Britain. The unsurprising revelation was made during National Public Radio’s “Fighting Extremism in a town hall town discussion” program held a couple a days ago and passionately monitored by this author. The program discussions heavily concentrated on the theme directed at fighting extremism and the panelists that composed of both Muslims and non-Muslims did an excellent job. On a separate occasion but related issue, Prime Minister David Cameroun has asserted that UK Muslims are the biggest charity donors than any other faith group. So, because of the importance of the encouraging revelations to me as a Muslim living in the west, I promptly scoured deeper and got the some additional exciting findings.

A brief look at Muslims in America from the author’s perspective Make no mistake about it, Muslims in the US comprises both Muslim Americans- that is those who were born and raised here and included Black, White, Asians, Arabs etc., and those who came are here as immigrants, but became naturalized after completely satisfying all the required procedures under Immigration path to legalization and naturalization. Recent statistics from the Pew Research estimate that there are about 2.5milliuon Muslims in America in both categories identified above, and the number is expected to double in 15 years. Research also shows that American Muslims are highly educated, and majority of them work as professionals in various areas of specialization including but not limited to Engineering, Medical, Academics and the long list goes on. These Muslims also reportedly earn more than average Americans, according to Pew Research findings, are often better integrated Americans, while at the same time practicing their religion according to the Qur’an and the Sunnah. In the twin cities in Minnesota alone, authentic observations show that there is steady mushrooming of mosques and religious centers as result of remarkable growth in the number of Muslim populations. Some unconfirmed reports put the number of mosques to 65 across Minnesota, while the suggested Muslim population is estimated to be over Two Hundred Thousand (200,000) coming from all continents in the World. Most of these communities have also established their mosques and Islamic centers where they regularly gather to worship and socialize. The list include various Somali mosques, the Oromo mosque and Islamic Center, the Gambian Islamic and Education Center that runs both a mosque and weekly children Islamic class as amongst examples that also included Fridley-based Islamic center of Minnesota, Masjid Al Huda Islamic Cultural Community Center, among a host of others. http://www.salatomatic.com

The Muslim world appeared to be increasingly bedeviled with chronic armed conflicts being perpetrated by a few disgruntled but astute lethal elements in the name of Jihadists. These groups that are labelled extremists and terrorists by the western powers have occasioned untold devastations in the form of carnage even in Muslim countries such as Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and countries with huge Muslim concentrations like and Nigeria- home to Boka Haram group and Kenya that is infiltrated by elements of Somali-based Al- Shabab movement. Their biased and selective interpretations of words of Allah are largely blamed for these avoidable human sufferings. Allah has completely dismissed any form of coercion in Islam. In Surat Al-Baqarah HE reveals “Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth has been made clear from error. Whoever rejects false worship and believes in God has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that never breaks. And God hears and knows all things.” Some proposed Strategies for fighting Extremism. National Radio discussion proposed many strategies to fight extremism, and among some recommendations given included community voluntarism and education of non-Muslims about true Islam as examples. From my personal perspective, these are very germane suggestions that Muslim groups need to add to their arsenal of strategies to fight this chronic menace, which is the equivalence of تطرفية in Arabic. In the areas of education, we need to overly communicate the Quran’s status as the resolute constitution for all Muslims which was unquestionably ordained by our creator Allah through Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

The Qur’an as Muslim Constitution I cannot think of any nation without a constitution, neither can I think of any social nor business organization without a working document whether in written or unwritten form. A constitution in essence is an embodiment of set of rules and regulations that ensures the smooth and effective functioning of a nation, society and organization. Its absence or blatant violation triggers chaos, anarchy and lawlessness. In the context of politics, we often hear in countries that experience a military coup, the first thing the junta characteristically does is to suspend the constitution and replace it with military decree. The latest example of this scenario was the recent overthrow of the Morsi government in Egypt by the military followed by an announcement that the constitution was suspended. In the intervening period, and before the election that ushered in former military chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as President, the country was governed by litany military decrees. There was a promised for a constitutional review and its eventual validation through a national referendum. The above analogy is ostensibly meant to showcase the importance and supremacy of a constitution. In the event that it is adulterated or flouted, eye-brows are immediately raised to correct a defective error or behavior especially by public officials. Equally when someone’s rights are violated, it is the constitution that is used to adjudicate crimes of all nature through the observance of due process before any punishment can be prescribed to law breakers and crime perpetrators by a competent court of law. In Islam too, the constitution of all Muslims is the Holy Quran. Its revelation to an illiterate prophet (An- Nabil Umeyuu) clearly underpins one of the many important miracles of the Holy Prophet. The Noble Qur’an in many of its consolidated verses comprehensively defends its self as an embodiment of words of our creator, Allah.

A Few Selected Attributes of the Qur’an The attributes of the Qur’an have been sufficiently addressed in many incontrovertible verses of the Holy Book. A few of the selected attributes picked from assortment of Surahs include: 1.What we taught him (the messenger) was not poetry, nor is he (a poet). This is but a formidable proof, and a profound Quran. (Quran Mubeen in Arabic text). 2. Absolutely, (I swear) by the moon. And the night as it passes; And the morning as it shines. This is one of the great miracles. A warning to the human race. For those among you who wish to advance, or regress. 3. This scripture is infallible; a beacon for the righteous. 4. We thus revealed it, an Arabic Quran, and we cited in it all kinds of prophecies, that they may be saved, or it may cause them to take heed. 5. The word of your Lord is complete, in truth and justice. Nothing shall abrogate His words. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient. 6. This Quran guides to the best path, and brings good news to the believers who lead a righteous life, that they have deserved a great recompense. 7. Why do they not study the Quran carefully? If it were from other than God, they would have found in it numerous contradictions

2014 Ramadan Message from Prime Minster Cameroun and 2015 from President Obama In his 2014 yearly Ramadan greetings obtained from a YouTube video, Prime Minister Dave Cameroun affirmed that Ramadan for Muslims constitutes a very special time for “charity, for contemplation and community. For charity, he noted with satisfaction that Muslims are the biggest donors in United Kingdom, adding “they give more to charity than any other faith group”. To contribute to community building that Ramadan is credited for in the daily Iftars (Fast breaking); the Mr. Cameroun announced that his government was to sponsor the biggest Ifar gathering to encourage all Persons of faith and even those without religious identification to get to know each other.

In a White House Ramadan greeting video message released to the public, President Obama rightly observed that Muslims believed that the Holy Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (SAW) during Ramadan, and pointed out that fasting represents “intense devotion and reflection”. Muslims, he correctly pointed out, fast the whole day and attend Taraweeh (night prayers) during which worshippers to the mosques listen to the entire text of the Quran during each night prayers. President Obama also alluded to the importance of community building that Ramadan fosters, and announced a new engagement plan by his administration with Muslims and majority Muslim nations on the “basis of mutual interests and respects”. The ongoing Islam phobia in the world can be surmounted with both education on proper Islam to people who are being inadvertently or intentionally fed with distorted information about Islam by some media outlets and clandestine anti- Islam groups. The spirit of community building and engagement can be used to the fullest to bring about the desire results. The notion in the west that Islam is synonymous with violence and terrorism often perpetuated by renegaded groups like ISIS, Al-Qaida, Boko Haram, Al-Shabab etc. needs to be completely rejected. These are groups that are attempting to hijack the deen known for peace and brotherhood, and they kill more Muslims than non- Muslims. These are murderers and the Qur’an fully condemns such a barbaric act. Assassination is strictly prohibited in the Qur’an. The verse clearly says, “And do not kill a soul that God has made sacrosanct, save lawfully.” (I.e. murder is forbidden but the death penalty imposed by the state for a crime is permitted). 5:53 says, “… whoso kills a soul, unless it be for murder or for wreaking corruption in the land, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind; and he who saves a life, it shall be as if he had given life to all mankind.” Additionally, if the motivation for terrorism is religious, it is impermissible in Islamic law. It is forbidden to attempt to impose Islam on other people. The Qur’an says, “There is no compulsion in religion. The right way has become distinct from error.” (-The Cow, 2:256). Note that this verse was revealed in Medina in 622 AD or after and was never abrogated by any other verse of the Quran. Islam’s holy book forbids coercing people into adopting any religion. They have to willingly choose it. Ramadan Mubarak to you all.