Thursday, September 24, 2020

Chairman Sherrif Sonko Urges UDP to respect his office

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By Yankuba Jallow

Sheriffo Sonko, the Chairperson of the Brikama Area Council has called on UDP to respect his office and the electorates who put him in office.

“I demand that you allow me to continue to exercise my duties without interference,” he said.

Sonko demanded from the UDP to respect his office to which he was elected by voters. He also urged them to advise their members to do the same so that it wouldn’t become necessary for him to apply to the court for orders of injunction.

UDP wrote to Mr. Sonko on the 27th March 2020 indicating that he has been expelled from the party. According to the letter, Sonko ceased to be a member of the party as from 27th March 2020. The party claimed that the decision was reached because Sonko’s betrayed the party and the electorates. The party said “the decision reached was because of ‘manifest and opulent demonstration of betrayal of the cause of the party.” The letter indicated that the decision to expel Sonko was a unanimous one among members of the party’s executive.

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Sonko did not accept that UDP can expel him as it has purported to do. He said even if the expulsion was valid (which is not the case), it cannot affect his position as the Chairperson of the area council.

“I did not accept that I have ceased to be a member of the UDP,” Sonko said.
He added: “I do not accept that the mandate of the electorate can be thwarted by a decision of the Executive taken in secret.”

“The Brikama Local Government Area comprised of 28 Wards and 12 Constituencies. Whilst National Assembly members are elected by a single constituency, I was elected by majority of voters by the 12 constituencies, I cannot therefore be removed from office merely on the basis of a decision of the UDP (the legality of which I challenge),” Sonko said.

Sonko said he is still the Chairperson of the Brikama Area Council and he intends to act in accordance with the mandate given to him by the electorate.

The party’s Deputy Secretary General and Deputy Party Leader Mariama B Secka (commonly called Aji Yam Secka) wrote to the Chief Executive Officer (Modou Jonga) of the Brikama Area Council informing him of Sonko’s expulsion. In a reply to that letter, the Chief Executive Officer pointed out that his office did not have authority to act on the subject matter.

On the 14th April 2020, Momodou Charreh Gibba, the Councillor for Gunjur Ward wrote to Sonko suggesting that he should comply with the expulsion letter. Gibba asked Sonko “to pack up and leave office with the little dignity.”

Sonko on the 17th April wrote to the party in reply to their letter. In his reply, Sonko said he ignored the said letter for a number of reasons.

“In the first place, I cannot be expelled from the party without previous notice, and without being heard before a decision was made against me,” Sonko said.

He indicated that no reason was ever communicated to him suggesting that the party executive was considering expelling him. Additionally, Sonko said there was no basis at any time for holding that he was guilty of manifest or opulent demonstration of the betrayal of the cause of the party.

“I have been a member of the United Democratic Party (UDP) for 24 years and do not accept that the party to which I have belonged for all this time is a party that can and does make decisions of this sort behind the back of its party members, and without confronting a member with any allegations before a decision is made against such a person,” Sonko explained.

Sonko said he is satisfied that his purported expulsion can be challenged in court, but would prefer not to have to do so, unless compelled to do so.

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