Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

MELTING THE ELEMENT OF FEAR IN THE GAMBIA

August 2, 2015
Reads :1380
Ousainou Mbenga - Democratic Union of Gambian Activist

Author: Ousainou Mbenga 

By: Ousainou Mbenga

In his tucked – tail retreat from travelling outside the Gambia and his cowardly movements between Kanilai and Banjul under heavy armor and the senseless military check points, Jammeh is given a taste of his own medicine of “living in fear”; thanks to the December 30, 2014 attack on the State House. Jammeh now more than ever before knows that we have driven him to the edge of the cliff of no return to join past neocolonial gangsters like him that wreaked havoc on Africa. The once paralyzing fear, never known in our beloved Gambia has finally evaporated into thin air.

Second to April 10 and 11, 2000; December 30, 2014 will be forever etched on our national consciousness.

Credible information has reached us that, no less than a thousand guards (GNA, NIA and his unofficial thugs) rotate monthly in defense of the State House in Banjul. The number of guards at the killing fields in Kanilai is open to anyone’s guess. This is the end game for tyrants who choose to be deaf, dumb and blind to peace and social justice. Jammeh doesn’t even trust himself, neither his shadow for a very long time. As the saying goes: “Baaken Jama la Bugga” – there is no soul that doesn’t yearn for peace; even Jammeh. But peace, he will never know for the rest of his devilish life. If anyone doubts his paranoia with paralyzing fear; watch the procession on the day of the Eid prayers. Inside the mosque, rows in front, beside and behind him stood plain clothes killers at guard while he “prayed”.

He’s been heard telling an American ambassador that, “he is not the monster people claim he is”. Joseph Mobutu, a poisoned fruit from the same tree as Jammeh once uttered: “I am not a monster”.

Yes, 21 years has been too damn long to have put up with AFPRC-APRC tyranny but our relentless fight has driven Jammeh to the end of his rope. Either he hangs himself or we will uproot him by any means necessary. For quite some time, Jammeh has realized that we had pierced through his “armor of invincibility”, rendering all his ghoulish sacrifices and amulets (“Jujus”) useless.

Like tyrants before him, the consequences of his reign of terror have begun to melt away the fear that his regime fed on for the past years. Now, Jammeh is drowning in the sewage of his repressive regime. After unleashing every imaginable act of terror against the people of our peace loving Gambia, he resorts to the oldest trick in the “book of tyrants”. Jammeh now resorts to deceitful acts of sympathy and questionable benevolence such as his recent presidential “massive pardons” of prisoners, the majority of whom were illegally imprisoned in the first place. He is at his desperate best to survive this catastrophe of his own making.

Jammeh never does anything at the goodness of his heart. If he did he would have had friends. Everyone that Jammeh so called befriended either ended tragic or in betrayal.

Additional pressure, aside from the resistance of the “diaspora” is bearing heavily on Jammeh from international organizations and governments to make gestures of “reconciliation”. It has been confirmed that Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, the sitting Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) recently visited Gambia and indeed met with Jammeh. Whether she gave him her own advice or conveyed advice from other sources to diffuse the mounting internal crises and begin laying down his “exit plan” or worst, preparing the grounds for the 2016 elections; Jammeh can never rule in the same old way he did.

 The “genie is out of the bottle”; it can never be put back. As the genie got out of the bottle, so did Ali Cham, a Gambian rapper, stage name “Killer Ace”, with his caustic relics (“Ku Boka C Geta G”) against the buffoon Jammeh regime. The bottled –up bitterness against the AFPRC – APRC regime is erupting like a hot blast.

But Jammeh has a lot more to answer to beyond the ceremonial release of “229 prisoners” under bizarre circumstances. Like most Gambians, I personally welcome the release of the prisoners but categorically not grateful to anyone, especially Jammeh. A mere scratch on the surface is not satisfactory. We must dig deep down into the rot that AFPRC-APRC has created during its reign of terror to come to a closure.

There are no doubts that the willfully ignorant sycophants of the regime and the advocates of “meaningless peace” will be at it again in their baseless defense of this dying but not yet dead regime. They have become masters at spinning reality wrong side up with their empty slogans “we don’t want any violence” and “Gambia is a peaceful country”. Where were these hypocrites for the past 21 years when violence was the only solution Jammeh applied in every situation? If you want meaningful peace, you must be willing to fight for it.

We will protest against any attempts to sanitize Jammeh for the sake of “meaningless reconciliations” at our expense. There must be a new beginning in our beloved Gambia which cannot co-exist with Jammeh.

 We demand:

.  An independent investigation into Koro Ceesay’s mysterious death.

. An investigation into the disappearance of Chief Ebrima Manneh, Saul Ndow,

   Mahawa Cham, Ndure Cham, Ebou Jobe, Mahmoud Ceesay and countless other

   soldiers and civilians.

. An investigation into the assassination of Deida Hydara.

. An inquiry in the torture chambers such as Fort Bullen and “Bamba Dinka”

    with testimony from torture and rape survivors.

. An open inquiry into the prison population at the Jeswang and George Town

    prisons.

     “FREEDOM FOR EVERYBODY OR FRREDOM FOR NOBODY”! JAMMEH MUST GO!

GAMBIANS ARE TIRED OF YAHYA JAMMEH AND HIS CONDITIONAL PARDON

July 26, 2015
Reads :4960
COMANDING DICTATOR

Jammeh must go with his pardon! Gambia needs a new page not Jammeh new page

By Adama Trawally

It’s now 21 years since the vicious government of Yahya Jammeh came to power in the Gambia. Dictator Jammeh fails to honour the promises he made to the Gambian People. He instead continued to violate the basic human rights of the Gambian citizens. The present condition of the Gambians under Yahya Jammeh is very sad and distressing; people are living in silence due to fear of facing torture and disappearance, if anyone dared to criticise the regime of Yahya Jammeh in the country.

I bore witness to what my fellow Gambians are going through, when I visited the country in 2013. While trying to express myself about the autocratic leadership of Yahya Jammeh and his administration, some of my friends warned me not to mention his name anywhere near them, because it was not safe for them. The country’s media houses all dance to his tune and operate in fear. Saying anything that is not right against the regime could get them closed or suffer arrest and detention. It is only the external online media operated by genuine Gambians, who are keeping the Gambians informed with issues that are really affecting Gambians.

The Dictator has recognised that the only threat to him and his brutal regime are from the Gambians in the Diaspora, since the people on ground are locked up in his countrywide prison; therefore, he is using various methods to silence the Diasporas also. Please let no one fall into Dictator Jammeh’s trap in believing that he has indeed forgiven those of you in the Diaspora with the condition that mean you keep quiet about his dictatorship in the Gambia. Where are the two Gambian – American citizens, Alhajie Mamut Ceesay and Ebou Jobe, who were subjected to force disappearance during their visit to the country in 2013. Many people have testified seeing them in a detention centres and appeared to have been tortured. The reason behind their reported disappearance is simply because their use of Facebook to criticise the regime.

Yahya Jammeh needs to know the fact that The Gambian people are fed up of him; although some are pretending to like him and support his administration, but they are his number one enemies. This is because our people are really suffering, especially the youths, who are so desperate that they sacrifice their lives for a greener pasture abroad, as there is high rate of unemployment in the Gambia and hence no future for them there. Additionally, I personally spent seven months in Gambia in 2013 searching for a job with my qualifications, but there was no job opportunity in the country.

Yahya Jammeh is also a big fool to think that Gambians are fools, as alluded to during his 30 December incident speech, the Gambians are no fools, that’s why some are pretending to be loyal to him in other to put a meal on their table for their families. This is because they know the fool has left them with alternative. This is also why some are risking their lives to leave to the country to Europe through the back-way.

Lastly, Dictator Jammeh rules the Gambia for 21 years, which is more than enough and therefore, after failing the Gambians, he needs to leave now.

GCC REJECTS JAMMEH’S AMNESTY AS RIDICULOUS AND CALLS FOR RELEASE OF ALL PRISONERS AND DETAINEES

July 26, 2015
Reads :2560

 

Dr Sedat Jobe the Chairman of the GCC

Dr Sedat Jobe the Chairman of the GCC

The GCC Logo

The GCC Logo

The Gambia Consultative Council (GCC) has issued a press release in reaction to President Jammeh’s recent olive branch amnesty announced on 22 July 2015 resulting in the pardoning of the release of 228 prisoners of the country’s overcrowded and unfit Mile 2 central prison. The GCC rebuked Jammeh’s overtures as ridiculous and calls on him to release all prisoners and detainees in the Gambia. We publish the same in full below:

“Gambia Consultative Council Press Release: GCC rejects amnesty as ridiculous; calls for release of all prisoners and more

On July 23rd, 2015, Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh began releasing prisoners from some of the worst prisons in Africa. On the same day, President Barack Obama left Washington, DC. for second trip to Africa as president of the United States. Yahya Jammeh, has long time been on the radar of western governments and institution unhappy with the state of human rights in the Gambia. As a result, in January, 2015, the United States removed Gambia from the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act for failing to meet eligibility requirements. In December, 2014, Reuters reports the European Union withholding critical funds from the Gambia. And in October, 2013, Yahya Jammeh unilaterally withdrew the Gambia from the 54-nation Commonwealth of Nations. Additionally, Yahya Jammeh has on many occasions, either, expelled diplomats from western governments and international institutions, or block the appointments of others to Gambia. Over the past several years, Gambia’s relations with the west hit rock-bottom over the Gambia’s death squads, executions, tortures, forced disappearances, mass incarcerations and the fleeing of Gambians to lands near and far. Tensions between the Gambian military regime and Gambian dissident, political establishment, western governments and regional and international NGOs and institutions have continued to deteriorate to levels where the threats of civil unrest are real and the demands for political change is louder.

Under these circumstances, Yahya Jammeh, isolated and shunned by both his African peers and the international community, has finally relented on the question of prisoner release. In addition, Yahya Jammeh has extended amnesty to dispute dissidents to return home. The Gambia Consultative Council (GCC) wants to make it categorically clear that the organisation and its supporters reject the offer of amnesty as ridiculous and unnecessary. Gambian dissidents around the world have done nothing criminal, for which they need amnesty. Since its formation, the GCC has fought for the liberation of the Gambian people against the murders, executions, mass incarcerations, tortures and the general fear in Gambia. GCC, like similar civil society organisations around the world, makes no apology for its role in fighting to free the Gambian people. GCC also calls for freeing all the political prisoners from the dungeons of death; too late for the over five hundred prisoners who have already died in Mile 2 Prison since 1994. GCC takes the opportunity to condemn the national Assembly for its role in passing a repressive Bill geared towards turning Gambia into a one-party state. The National Assembly’s act was a cowardly act designed to give Yahya Jammeh complete control over the lives of Gambians. In the same vein, GCC asks the National Assembly to not bring the proposed Death Penalty amendment Bill up for debate, now or ever. GCC calls for Yahya Jammeh to step down to allow Gambians to form a unity government between the political establishment and civil society.

Signed

GCC”

BOWING DOWN TO PRESSURE; WE ARE RESOLUTE, STEP DOWN JAMMEH

July 24, 2015
Reads :3600
Gambia Dictator Yahya Jammeh

Pardoning prisoners is too little, too late. We want him out! Jammeh Must Go!!!

By Yero Jallow

Gambia’s criminal ruler, Yaya AJJ Jammeh, came to power through a military-backed overthrow on July 22nd 1994. Since then, he stationed himself as the world’s “Pharaoh” ruling with an iron-fist, and constantly exercising power greed by violating constitutional and human rights protections.

Jammeh’s known power excesses and human rights violations cannot be all chronicled in a single paper. Most of the organizations and individuals doing a review on his political criminality come short as events are with respect to time. Take an example, the U.S State Department and the recently completed United Nation rapporteur which succeeded in revealing a pinch of Jammeh’s heinous nature but came short in practically scolding him, with the exception of cutting Aids meant for the Gambia. For the most part, Gambia online Newspapers and radios, and online activists in their many forums, did a lot of work in exposing Jammeh’s cupboard skeletal nibs, though the international community did very little to show empathy and solidarity with the oppressed Gambians, and it is as if some nations and organizations are petting the fully grown Gambian dictatorship. The only time you really hear from some of them is when their interest was touched. This is very unfortunate.

Recently during Jammeh’s commemoration of the 21st anniversary of the July 22nd military takeover, Jammeh showed his usual fetish and boastful nature by bad-mouthing citizens, and announcing to release some prisoners. Before getting into this topic proper, I want to publicly mention that I haven’t done anything wrong to Jammeh, and I neither need his forgiveness nor pardon. Jammeh can keep his blanket amnesty to those that wronged him, and those that are buying into Jammeh’s tomfoolery can as well choose to hang their lives. I am personally not interested in any amnesty, reconciliation, and position from Jammeh. He can carry the entire world, including his own criminal baggage on his head and just keep walking and let us see how far he can sustain the weight on his head.

My observations starts with Jammeh being under high pressure, both national and international, especially of late when he came under close radar monitor. Jammeh is sent to lick his wounds, inferior complexity and egos. This is a cheap way of buying himself time on the power seat. He is reminded that time is running out and he needs to step down and submit himself to justice without delay. The more he stays in power, the more he reduces his chances of making it to his trial court alive, matter of fact, it is conclusive to say that Jammeh will sustain more deadly wounds than Libyan Gadhafi and Guinean Nino Vieira. His exit is imaginarily ugly as his criminal baggage is heavy, and he drowns to rock-bottom in no time, in the most horrific way.

Most importantly, most of these cases were cooked-up, and some of these fellows didn’t commit the crimes they were accused in courts of law. Most as noted can be wrong by association, participation, and complicity, a crime that many Gambians down-play especially with mass enabling force that station themselves comfortably only after they part with Jammeh. In fact, most of these enablers are the first causality of Jammeh’s criminality, because the crocodile preys on the available prey. The many killed will never come back. Take an example the many that disappeared in the Gambia since this criminal administration came to power. Think of all those that were tortured, dealt with in some other wrong ways. Most of these are chemical reaction damages that cannot be reversed, as the dead will not come to life, and those that sustained physical, emotional, psychological damages are unlikely to heal anytime soon either. How can this be forgiveness and amnesty then?

Anyone who is following Gambia’s political situation knows the ending is coming nearer at a fast speed. The Gambia is sitting on a time-bomb about to explode and only if God helps us, that we see an exit of this criminal regime with minimal damage on collateral, property and human life. Jammeh has been cornered and isolated, both locally and the international community and that leaves him with the only option of bowing down to pressure, because a lot of organizations and nations cut him on his aids. By releasing these prisoners, he will reduce the overcrowded nature of Gambia’s prisons, added to the fact that he couldn’t sustain the prisoners’ well-being in terms of feeding, shelter, and medical conditions. This will also help him buy some political points with the hope that donor nations and organizations will start giving him funds to run his projects and dirty political agendas.

A third developing nation like the Gambia with no major export, oil, and minerals will sink down to rock-bottom if aids were cut. Unfortunately Gambia’s only tourism industry which supported the economy in a larger percentage went down because of Jammeh’s human rights violations and Gambia’s political instability. The food scarcity continues with skyrocketing commodity prices. The pay scale is low to support working families and most families depend wholly of remittances from their friends and relatives outside the Gambia to get on survival daily, as the major farming method, subsistence farming hasn’t catered enough produce to feed the demanding population. The lack of improved mechanical farming methods such as irrigation and good farming practices, grabbing of productive lands by Jammeh from its owners, together with his false hope around farming, all helps to continually dwindle farming in the Gambia, added to the lack of a ready market to sell produce at harvest. The latest which is enslavement of citizens at his farms shows the lowest level that this man masquerading in the presidency has gotten. Many are forced to work on his farms without pay.

Part of the problem with this so-called amnesty is the criteria which shapes a very ugly nature, according to Jammeh’s misfit thinking, with higher chance that it can even cause some problems, some of which we will see in the near future. Jammeh was seen doing his normal self, fetish, complex, insane, and hypocritical. He is the most divisive person that one can come across in history. I am pretty sure these rules of releasing these prisoners weren’t properly examined, neither debated at national assembly level nor followed wisely. This is more of a problem, another form of Jammeh’s political hypocrisy. I leave that to time, the old arbiter of matters to shine on it.

So a clear message to those who are easily taken by Jammeh’s political hypocrisy and gymnastic. Life is about principle. It is about following your heart for what is good for your nation and its people. In this regard, we accept the freedom of those released, and we say no thank-you to Jammeh, rather we say, it is too late and way overdue. It is not enough at that. We say, shame on you Jammeh for being the political criminal you are and putting Gambians in the type of captivity for over two decades. We say, Jammeh your so-called amnesty is all lies, as Gambians are not in need of your amnesty, and if there is any needing amnesty, it’s Jammeh’s sinking soul.

To the many Gambian activists at home and abroad, you succeeded in having a big victory today. Go celebrate for fighting to liberate your nation. You succeeded in cornering and isolating Jammeh completely, forcing him to bow down to pressure. This is one of the biggest battles you won in this struggle. While Jammeh may tailor the story as if it is religious, cultural, and all the nonsense, we all know it is fat lies, fabrication, and political emptiness. It is obvious that he fools nobody but himself and he can wallow in his political madness all he wants, and that doesn’t move people an inch. Among those that are politically wrong is Jammeh.

Stay put comrades! Please don’t be moved by the so-called amnesty and don’t lose sleep over Jammeh’s usual bad-mouthing of Gambian citizens. It is your victory, go celebrate! Jammeh has been cornered and he is bowing down to pressure. One more final push and we can send his sinking soul packing and off to where he belongs.

Long Live the Gambia!

OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT JAMMEH

July 24, 2015
Reads :6190
JAMMEH, THE  UNRELENTING TYRANT

IS HE SERIOUS ABOUT THIS NEW PAGE OF HIS?

By Baba Galleh Jallow

Dear Mr. President, I am writing this open letter to you in direct response to your speech of July 22, 2015 granting amnesty to several categories of people, including those convicted of treason in The Gambia and those members of the Gambian Diaspora who have been in disagreement and/or outright conflict with you and your government. This letter is motivated by pure love of country and a desire to encourage what I understand, rightly or wrongly, to be a potential beginning of change for the better for our dear Motherland. My uncompromising hatred for all forms of injustice is only equal to my belief in the human capacity to evolve and improve. In granting forgiveness, I understand from your speech that you desire to be forgiven for crimes committed under your watch, if not by the victims of these crimes, then by God.

Some members of the Gambian Diaspora community who have been in disagreement and/or conflict with you and your government are not liars as you characterized them; nor have they ever committed a single crime in their lives. Their only “crime” has been to criticize you and your government for doing things they believe to be detrimental to the wellbeing of our country, and to offer advice on how best to move our country in the best direction. They have simply been criminalized by the spirit of intolerance that characterized your regime and which, I dearly hope, is about to become a thing of the past. Of course, no one can claim to be infallible and we have staunchly resisted and rejected your claims of infallibility in the past. And should you claim to be infallible in the present or the future, some of us will reject it out of hand; for infallibility may only be claimed by the All Mighty God to whom you make frequent reference. If you do indeed read the Quran everyday as you mentioned in your speech, then this fact is not lost upon you. Human beings are fallible creatures and peace will elude them as long as they refuse to acknowledge that fact and act accordingly. Perhaps your frequent reading of the Quran (in translation I hope) is beginning to bear fruit. Perhaps you are growing increasingly capable of recognizing the error of your ways and making amends to that effect. That can only bode well for our dear Motherland.

I hope you understand Mr. President, that saying you forgive your critics and opponents in the Diaspora does not mean that they will not criticize you where they find this necessary, or desist from advocating the kinds of political changes that they feel is best for our Dear Motherland. Indeed, our freedom of expression and association is absolutely nonnegotiable and inviolable by any leader or government on earth. We reserve the right to condemn unjust laws and object to the abuse of our God-given rights by the State which is our child and servant, or the head of state who is our child and chief servant. We conceive of the Nation as one big family – the Family Nation – in which the people are the parents and the government the children. The head of state deserves due respect as the First Child of the Family Nation. But he/she will be censored if he/she disrespects or in any way unjustly abuses public authority, the dignity of any member of the national family or our national institutions. So will all members of their government. Disagreements are inevitable in any social unit; but disagreements within the Family Nation should never be elevated to the status of enmity; they must be tolerated and resolved where possible. Where it is not possible to amicably and/or legally resolve disagreements within the Family Nation, family members must be content with agreeing to disagree. No member of the family should be forcibly silenced or punished because they disagree with other members of the family. All members aspire to help our Dear Motherland become a universal model of all the beautiful virtues expressed in the Holy Scriptures – from forgiveness, which you just practiced – to justice, respect for human dignity, freedom of worship, and unconditional tolerance of differing opinion within the nation-state space, among others. The task of helping our Motherland become such a model is a perpetual work in progress that we will carry out as long as is humanly possible and that future generations of Gambians will continue after us. And the fact that the Nation is a work in progress means that we and those who come after us bear the responsibility of pointing out faults within our leadership and our political and cultural institutions and seeking remedies for them. In effect, what I am saying is that if you do something we feel is not good for our nation, we will criticize you for it and we will say what we believe, rightly or wrongly, is the best thing for our nation. No Gambian may claim to love The Gambia more than any other Gambian, and it is important for those handling the affairs of our nation to be perpetually and immediately cognizant and respectful of this fact. So while I personally appreciate the fact that you have released political prisoners and other people convicted of various offenses in The Gambia, and the fact that you have decriminalized those innocent critics of you and your government residing outside our beloved country, I believe that there is still much more you can and should do in your own personal interest and in the interest of our Dear Motherland. Below is a very short list of suggestions:

Institute Term Limits: This is one of the most important steps you should take in the interest of our Nation. Moreover, it is a step that you strongly promised Gambians that you will take 21 years ago when you took over the reins of our national government. I am sure you clearly remember saying that even ten years is too much for any single person to be in power in The Gambia. Instituting term limits is not, as you recently suggested, an act of pandering to the West, or being a puppet of the West. It is an act that will heal our nation in ways that we can only imagine at this time. Giving ownership of democracy, human rights, term limits or any other aspect of political civility to the West is giving the West power it does not possess or agency it may never lay claim to. Civility is a human virtue, not a Western imposition because the West has no power or authority to impose it. Instituting term limits is simply the right thing to do and I hope you will do it in your own personal interest and in the best interest of our dear Nation. Occasional changes of political leadership propels a nation forward; it allows for experimentation with different ideas as to how best to improve the conditions of a nation. On the other hand, overstaying in power may give the illusion of progress but is actually a recipe for political, cultural and developmental stagnation, if not outright national disaster. The fact that Jawara overstayed in power was among your primary excuses for toppling him. Do not repeat his fatal political mistake.

Annul the 2015 Elections Amendment Law: As a leader who seized power in the name of bringing about political freedom and equality, you have many times abrogated that declared intention. However, with the incredible increase in electoral fees that your government is in danger of imposing, you have literally gone way over the top and reached perhaps the farthest point away (so far) from your initial declared intention of bringing about political freedom and equality. The best thing to do in the interest of our Dear Motherland is simply nip this unjust idea in the bud and leave the fees as they are. It is manifestly unjust to make it virtually impossible for well-meaning Gambians to offer their services to the nation through elected office simply because they are not as wealthy as yourself and cannot afford the fees. Let the Gambian people choose their leaders in free and fair elections, which are already hard enough to conduct within the context of our current political culture.

Consider Alternative Views: Ideas, Mr. President, are the building blocks of a nation. Therefore, it is incumbent upon you as Head of State to seriously consider all ideas proposed in the name of helping our Dear Motherland, regardless of their origin. The Gambian media needs to be free to agree or disagree with you and your government, because they are equally invested in the welfare of our nation. The criminalization of legitimate public opinion is much like cutting your nose to spite your face and represents a violation of the fundamental God-given rights of citizenship every Gambian should enjoy without let or hindrance. Where media or journalists explicitly break the law or commit sedition or libel, let the rule of law take its due course rather than have state agents unlawfully pounce upon them. The practice of punishing journalists and media houses simply because they criticize their own government is utterly counter-productive. Just as parents have the right to criticize and correct their children, so does journalists have the right to criticize and correct their government, whose members are their children and servants.

I understand that our alternative political parties are suggesting a list of electoral reforms for your consideration. It would perhaps be unrealistic to say that you must accept all their suggestions, which may in fact be the best thing for you to do. However, I would urge you to seriously consider some of their proposals if not in recognition of their merit and legitimacy as coming from well-meaning, well-respected Gambian citizens, then in the interest of what is best for our Dear Motherland. Our electoral politics are in much need of improvement and I am sure the proposals coming from our other political leaders have something to offer. You will notice that I do not refer to them as opposition parties because I think the term “opposition” does not adequately capture the essence of our alternative political parties and leaders. We need a rethinking of not only our political culture, but the political nomenclature that is of this increasingly outmoded culture, including terms like opposition, honorable, and excellency.

Finally, Mr. President, I heard you say that you have turned a new page. I dearly hope you have. Let me just say that turning a new page is much more than offering amnesty to convicted criminals and allowing Gambians in the Diaspora the freedom to visit their homeland without fear of arrest or persecution. That is certainly a significant step, but it is only one step – however significant – that you need to take towards bettering the condition of our Dear Motherland. I have outlined a few other crucial steps you need to take in this short open letter. If you have already decided to take these steps, praise be to God. If not, I urge you to seriously consider taking them sooner rather than later, in the best interests of our Dear Motherland. All Power Belongs to God, Lord of the Worlds.

JAMMEH ADMONISHED TO SEEK GAMBIANS’ FORGIVENESS

July 21, 2015
Reads :4780

By Salifu Joof

Jammeh has sinned against every Gambian.

Jammeh has sinned against every Gambian.

It is reality that none is perfect. All have weaknesses and shortcomings and sometimes we find ourselves committing sins out of ignorance or out of following whimsical desires. And that keeps us away from Allah, hence darkens our hearts and seals us from Allah’s guidance, which thus increases our records of bad deeds.  As part of His infinite mercy, Allah has made available various ways of achieving forgiveness and expiation of sins.

In Islam, forgiveness is of two types: one is Allah’s forgiveness and the other is the forgiveness from human beings for wrongs done to them. How can you so-called professor Dr Jammeh, expect Allah’s forgiveness when you deny forgiveness to those you say wrong things to you, knowingly or unknowingly?

Forgiving one’s enemies is an important part of Islamic teachings, especially in the holy month of Ramadan. In the Quran, Allah described the believers as those who avoid major sins, acts of indecency and when they are angry they forgive.

I still remember in Sir Dawda Jawara’s era, when I was much younger, that in every of the country’s Independence Day celebration the humble Sir always forgives some prisoners. Why can’t you do the same, so-called professor? You claim to be a good Muslim and love the Gambian people? Can you then tell the Gambian people the truth about your regime and ask for their forgiveness for the following sins you committed against them, as listed below, which are some of the crimes your regime is guilty of:

  1. Execution and murder of civilians and military personnel.
  2. Wrongful arrest and detention of journalists at Mile 2 prison.
  3. Physical and psychological torture of victims’ relatives.
  4. Students massacre and Gambians going missing to date.

 

Written  by:  Salifu Joof

PDOIS CHALLENGE JAMMEH ON CONSTITUTIONALITY OF HIS ELECTORAL BILL

July 21, 2015
Reads :1530
PDOIS Banner

PDOIS Letter Head

Gambia’s opposition party, People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS), has written to the Gambian President Yahya Jammeh teaching him about the basics of the unconstitutionality of his the recently passed controversial Electoral Amendment Bill 2015 by the country’s National Assembly on 7 July on 2015, which is now waiting for the President’s assent to make it law. We publish their letter below in full:

“15 July 2015

REF: SH(1)/7/2015

 

THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA

STATE HOUSE

BANJUL

 

SUBJECT: THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE MOTION ON THE ELECTIONS (AMENDMENT) BILL 2015 INTRODUCED BY THE HEAD OF THE CIVIL SERVICE 

The dictates of National duty, as a major stakeholder in the political process and your role in the process of promulgating a law, has compelled us to address this memorandum to you.

We have two fundamental observations to raise, touching on both technicality and substance regarding the constitutionality of passing the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2015. The advice of constitutional experts should be earnestly sought to look into the constitutionality of the motion moved by Mr Nyabally.

In short, The Elections (Amendment) Bill 2015 is reported to have been passed.  The Bill was introduced by the Head of the Civil Service. The same person is referred to as Minister for Presidential Affairs.  The role of Head of the Civil Service and that of a Minister are unconnected with, isolated from and independent of each other. In short, they are incompatible.

Section 168 subsection (1) of the Constitution is quite clear.  It states:

The President, acting in accordance with the advice of the Public Service Commission, shall appoint a person holding an office in the public service on permanent terms to be the Head of the Civil Service. The Head of the Civil Service shall be the competent authority for the Civil Service.”

Hence, a Head of the Civil Service must be a person holding an office in the public service on permanent terms. No honest analyst could fail to acknowledge this fact. A whole government with paid advisers should not wallow in the dark.

Why is the position of Minister and Head of the Civil service incompatible?  The answer is simple.

Section 166 Subsection (4) provides the answer:

In this Constitution, an office in the public service does not include –

(a)       the offices of President, Vice-President, Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Minister or a member of the National Assembly;

(b)       the offices of a member of any commission (other than a commission the members of which are hereby or by an Act of National Assembly declared to hold an office in the public service), or a member of the Advisory Committee on the exercise of the Prerogative of Mercy or the Advisory Committee on the conferment of honours.”

Hence a Head of the Civil Service cannot be a member of the National Assembly or a Minister without vacating one’s post.

In fact, Section 170 Subsections (1) and (2) of the Constitution adds:

(1)     A person holding an office in a public service shall not hold office in any political party.

(2)       Any person who holds an office in a public service who wishes to contest an election for a political office shall, prior to nomination as a candidate, obtain one year’s leave of absence without pay, which leave shall not unreasonably be refused.”

There are clear lines of demarcation between functions of Head of the Civil service, National Assembly member and Minister.

Section 101 Subsection (1) states that,

Subject to the provisions of this section, a Bill or motion may be introduced in the National Assembly by a member of the Cabinet or by a member of the National Assembly, and the National Assembly shall give consideration to Bills and motions so introduced.” 

Since the Head of the Civil Service cannot be a Minister or member of Cabinet the Bill was introduced by the wrong person. In this respect it should be returned to the National Assembly and not enacted into law.

This is the first technicality. Allow us to move on to the second.

The Central Committee of PDOIS has received and did deliberate on the report that the Bill which was introduced into the National Assembly was different, in content, from the Bill which was published in the Gazette on 1st June 2015.

This would be in violation of Section 101 Subsection (3) of the Constitution. It reads:

No Bill, other than a Bill referred to in subsection (5), shall be introduced into the National Assembly unless it has been published in the Gazette, and such publication has been made at least fourteen days before the date of its introduction:

“Provided that where the President certifies that the enactment of the Bill is required in the public interest as a matter of urgency, the Bill may be introduced notwithstanding it has not been published fourteen days beforehand, but the Speaker shall, on the introduction of the Bill, cause a vote to be taken in the National Assembly without debate on a motion to give consideration to the Bill notwithstanding that the said period of fourteen days has not expired.”

A Bill containing pen marks, reducing deposits, was never published in the Gazette before introduction into the National Assembly and was not introduced under a certificate of urgency.

Hence, the introduction of the Bill departed from established constitutional procedures. In this regard, it should not be enacted into law.

Law, Common Sense, National Interest and conscience all combine to indicate that the Bill is unsuitable for our times and circumstances and should be returned to the National Assembly. The most appropriate decision is to utilise the proposals from the opposition as the basis of building consensus on genuine electoral reform which would stand the test of time. We hope, after 20 years at the helm your government will not hinder the exercise of franchise by the sovereign Gambian people to make their right to self determination, which include the right to determine their manner of government without any obstacles, a reality.

Yours In the Service of the People

 

Halifa Sallah

Secretary General

CC Chairman, IEC

Attorney General and Minister of Justice

Speaker, National Assembly