Monday, May 25, 2020
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The first Global Pan-African Conference: Renaissance on Monday 25 May

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The inaugural 2020 conference organised by UK-based consortium Mboka Festival of

Arts Culture and Sport goes digital on Monday 25 May at 5pm (6pm UK; 1pm EST; 7pm South Africa). The conference commemorates the 120th anniversary of the first Pan African Conference, organised by Henry Sylvester Williams in London. The title of the first conference panel is: “120 Years On: At a commemorative time of reflection, what should  an ‘African Renaissance’ look like?” 

Keynote conference speaker The Honourable Halifa Sallah, the Secretary-General of the People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism in The Gambia will open the roundtable discussion to talk to the topic of the 1st Conference discussion, “120 Years On: At a commemorative time of reflection, what should an ‘African Renaissance’ look like?” to give his reflections on what an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa means. His talk will be followed by short presentations from: Dr. Diana-Abasi Ibanga, University of Calabar, Nigeria; D’Juan Owens, an entrepreneur and Martial Arts professional in the USA and Edeyan H. Omoweh, an African Studies, Ph.D. Student in the University of Ibadan. The panelists will speak on the concept of Mboka as Sustainable Development, Pan Africanism in Action and the current and future impact of the Year of Return to Ghana

The aims and objectives of the conference are informed by the Africa Union Commission document, ‘Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want’ and it will be focusing on how The Gambia can play its part locally, regionally and continentally and internationally. The conference also seeks to explore how The Gambian people can benefit from African integration. 

Kadija George, Co-Founder, Mboka Festival of Arts, Culture and Sport says:

“The first G-PAC takes place at a sombre time for celebration and commemoration. 2020 marks the 120th anniversary of the first Pan-African Conference that took place in London. We have to ask and consider what we have achieved with regards to raising the prosperity of the conference since then.”

We must also remember that we have just reached the 400 years that marks the beginning of slavery in America when 20 enslaved Africans were forcibly taken to a port in what is now called Virginia. We still have so much work to do, and we want to see what we can do in The Gambia, for Gambians, but that must also link to what is taking place in the continent and bringing the diaspora closer in an effective way.”

The next GPAC conference will take place in May 2022 with a focus on women. ASPIRATION 6: of Agenda 2063.  An Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children

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TO BOOK A SEAT AT THE VIRTUAL TABLE:
https://global-pan-african-conference-towards-renaissance.eventbrite.co.uk

The discussion will also stream live on Facebook

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mbokafestivalgambia

Twitter: @mbokafestival   #mbokafest2020 #GPACGambia  #Halifa Sallah

Website: www.mbokafestival.org

For more information: [email protected]

CAMP AFRICA, 95 Bertil Harding Highway (220) 9917343 – what’s app / 7749277) UK  +44 (0)7980 269138 (what’s app)

[email protected] / https://www.facebook.com/mbokafestivalgambia / @mbokafestival

Writers’ Association Appoint Honorary Ambassadors for Africa, US, UK

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By Momodou Jarju

The Writers Association of The Gambia (WAG) has appointed three honorary WAG Literary Ambassadors for the Africa Region, United States of America and the United Kingdom (UK) on 16th May.

Acting according to the Constitution of the association, the honorary WAG Literary Ambassadors are appointed by the Executive of WAG to legally serve as literary agents for the community of Gambian writers and scholars in the United States of America, Europe and across Africa.

The duration of the appointments is three years and the literary Ambassadors are expected to present their credentials to the Gambian Consulate in Lagos, Nigeria; the Gambian Embassy in Washington DC and the Gambian Consulate in the UK and the presentations must be made on or before the 16th of June 2020.

Speaking to Foroyaa, award-winning author and current Secretary General of WAG Modou Lamin Age-Almusaf Sowe disclosed that the Literary Ambassadors will serve as literary agents to promote Gambian authors and their works to various members of the media and the arts industries across the world, including theatre managers, book publishers and radio, television and film producers.

‘‘They will be responsible for identifying literary talents and work on behalf of Gambian authors to seal book deals and promote their works within the media. They will not receive a percentage of the profits from book sales and the position is entirely voluntary,’’ he said.

Mr. Sowe said they want to provide international markets for Gambian books and sell out Gambia’s beautiful culture to the outside world; that they used a rigid yardstick for the appointments. He said the appointees must have at least one publication in English that can provide a route into the industry; be a paid-member of WAG and must have registered with the association for the past three years.

“The literary scene is highly competitive making any experience valuable particularly in publishing. WAG under the able leadership of Dr. Cherno Omar Barry, made these appointments ahead of the Kunta Kinteh International Book Festival that the association is bracing up for in September 2020. It should have been held in April 2020, but due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, the event was postponed,’’ Sowe said.

For the UK Ambassador:

Dr. Momodou Sallah, a senior lecturer at De Montfort University is the UK Ambassador for the association. Dr. Sallah has over 20 years of experience working with young people at the local, national and international levels. He has published extensively on topics such as globalization and intercultural competence especially in the fields of work with young Black people; young Muslims; participatory research methodologies and Global Youth Work. These publications have greatly contributed to a field where there is a dearth of literature and has enhanced students’ learning experience.

Ambassador for the Africa Region:

Ebrima B. Sawaneh, a young Gambian chartered accountant, banker and international bestselling author, is the Ambassador for the Africa Region. Mr. Sawaneh currently works in the finance department of an African focused Financial Institution based in Lagos. He previously worked at GTBank and Ecobank Gambia Ltd.

Ambassador for the US:

Wuyeh Drammeh who lives in Seattle with his family, is the US Ambassador for the Association. Drammeh works at the Washington State Department of Health and Social Services. He is an avid member of Epic Writers Group of Edmonds and Pacific Northwest Writers Association of America and has just published his second book: ‘THIS WAY FROM AMERICA’.

Health Ministry Responds to GMC Leader’s Allegations on Conditions at Quarantine Centres

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By Nelson Manneh

The Ministry of Health has yesterday the 19th of May 2020 responded to the Gambia Moral Congress (GMC) Leader Mr. Mai Ahmed Fatty’s claim on the poor conditions of quarantine centres.

Mr. Modou Njie the Director of Health Promotion and Education at the Ministry of Health who read the statement on behalf of the Ministry of Health, said their Ministry would like to dismiss the claims made by the GMC Leader in his recent press briefing regarding the conditions of the quarantine centres particularly the Badala Park Hotel.

Director Njie said the GMC leader Mai Ahmed Fatty was intercepted together with his wife, male child and the driver of the private vehicle he was travelling in upon returning from the Republic of Senegal by health officials on duties at the Amdalai point of entry and taken to quarantine from the 20th April to 13th May 2020.

“Mr. Fatty said when he was taken to the room where he was isolated, he found nothing there, (reported by the Voice Newspaper, May 14th 2020). The MoH would like to urge the general public to disregard this information as all the quarantine facilities are with hotel standard beds, television, air-condition, dining tables, refrigerator, chair, shower, toilet and room services as well as health services such as psychosocial support and medical care,” he said.

Director Njie said a group of nineteen Journalists from different media houses visited the quarantine centres on the 7th May 2020 when Mr. Fatty and his family were serving their quarantine period.

“Regarding claims of the lack of face masks for health personnel at the quarantine centres, the Ministry of Health would like to inform the general public that as part of its policy, all health personnel at both the quarantine, treatment, laboratory centres are provided with personal protective equipment such as face masks, gloves, etc,” he said.

Mr. Njie said that even persons under quarantine are provided with face masks throughout their quarantine period.

“According to Mr. Fatty, based on his conversation with some frontline health workers during his time under quarantine, Mr. Fatty said that he realized that some of this health personnel have to borrow money in order to get their families’ daily sustenance (the Voice Newspaper, Reported May 14th 2020),” Njie said.

He said the Ministry of Health would like to inform the general public that health workers are civil servants and they are receiving their monthly salaries from The Gambia Government on time.

He added that the government does not give daily sustenance allowance for the upkeep of their families, but the Ministry of Health is providing incentives for all frontline health workers including those at the quarantine centres.

“An initial amount has been paid to all those personnel working at the quarantine centres and plans are at an advanced stage for additional payment of incentives to all frontline workers including the personnel at the quarantine facilities,” he said.

The Director of Health Promotion and Education at the MoH said Mr. Fatty said that some people were picked from streets and were taken directly to quarantine centre with only a trouser, adding that some of these people spent almost all their quarantine period with the same clothes (The Voice Newspaper, 14th May 2020).

Director Njie said the Ministry of Health would like to inform the public that there is no restriction on people under quarantine to be provided with clothes and other basic needs which are channeled by their families through their personnel attached to the centres.

“Persons on quarantine are equally allowed to communicate with their families and loved ones through telephones without restrictions,” he said.

Mr. Njie said during public health emergencies or pandemic, putting people in quarantine or isolations is mandatory as indicated in the National Public Health Act of 1990 and the International Health Regulations 2005 as the best strategy to avoid further transmission of diseases.

“During the quarantine period, the Ministry of Health ensures the provision of three meals to each person under quarantine as opposed to the claim that only one meal is provided,” he said.

He said Mr. Fatty was given the exceptional privilege to cook his choice of meal whenever he feels like doing so.

“In The Gambia, the government through the Ministry of Health is using our meagre national resources to provide standard hotels as quarantine centres at no cost to the person on quarantine for a period of 14 days. This is not the case in many countries where persons on quarantine foot their own bills of all services provided,” he said.

Director Njie said in some cases persons on quarantine are lodged in schools, stadiums and prisons.

“The Ministry of Health would like to assure the general public that the welfare of frontline workers and persons on quarantine are given much attention at all times,” he said.

National Assembly Confirms Appointment of Ombudsman

By: Kebba AF Touray

In line with Section 164 (1) of the 1997 Constitution, the National Assembly yesterday confirmed the appointment of Mr. Bakary Sanyang as the new Ombudsman.

Tabling the report of the Public Appointment Standing Committee of the National Assembly, Kebba K Barrow the Chairperson of the Committee said in accordance with Section 164 (1) of the 1997 Constitution, the president is mandated to appoint to the office of Ombudsman in consultation with the public service commission (PSC), subject to confirmation by the National Assembly; that the motion for confirmation of the appointment of Mr. Sanyang was tabled by the Vice President on Monday 6th April 2020; that Mr. Sanyang’s appointment by the President is the second nominee for the position of Ombudsman after the Assembly earlier rejected the first nominee in December 2019.

Chairperson Barrow said therefore the provision under Section 164 (1) of the 1997 Constitution, limits the National Assembly from rejecting the second nominee for the office of Ombudsman ‘‘subject to the full compliance to the provisions of the Constitution”; that the motion tabled by the Vice President, confirms that the nominee was serving as a public officer as Governor of West Coast Region and that Section 164 (4) provides that a person shall not be qualified to hold the office of Ombudsman or Deputy Ombudsman, if he is a Member of the National Assembly, a Minister or holds another public office.

Chairperson Barrow said based on the above provision, the motion to confirm Mr. Bakary Sanyang as Ombudsman was referred to the Public Appointments Standing Committee of the National Assembly, as per Section 114, for scrutiny and advice; that Standing Order 114 (2) mandates the Committee to consider and advise or report on all appointments to public office, to be made by the Executive subject to the confirmation by the National Assembly and any other matter therewith.

Chairperson Barrow said the committee met on Thursday 14th 2020 to consider and scrutinize the motion as was referred to the committee by the plenary; that some of the methodologies used by the committee to scrutinize the process include the reviewing of the credentials of Mr. Sanyang to ascertain the statuary rudiments as provided for by Section 164 of the 1997 Constitution.

“The committee noted the handing over of Mr. Sanyang’s letter ref. 14/42/01 (37), to confirm that he is no more holding any public office,” he said; that the Committee resolved to advise the Assembly to confirm the appointment of Mr. Sanyang, cognizant of the fact that he has substantial administrative or professional experience, and to confirm that Sanyang has ceased to hold any public office and demonstrates utmost impartiality and neutrality in the discharge of his duty and constitutional requirement for the Assembly not to reject his nomination.

Vice President Dr. Isatou Touray on behalf of President Barrow, hailed the Lawmakers for the decision they have taken to endorse the appointment of Mr. Bakary Sanyang to the Office of Ombudsman.

“You can all be assured of Government’s continued emphasis on the need to strengthen the democracy that we all agree to move with the rule of law and to work in a transparent and professional manner, in order to move this country forward,” VP Touray told Deputies.

Advocates Call For Full Implementation of Ban on FGM To save the Future of the Girl Child

MUHAMMED S. BAH (MS)

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a deeply rooted culture which many believe cannot be easily wipe out despite strict laws to prevent its practice. The Gambia is part of countries that practice the culture, and has been battling to wipe this harmful traditional practice from within our societies for decades, through series of advocacies by various NGOs and civil society organisations.

Gambia parliament passes bill which bans female genital mutilation …

The advocacies have yielded dividend after the public announcement by former president Jammeh banning the practice and its eventual inclusion in the Women’s Amendment Act 2015. During the previous dispensation, people were fearful of being arrested, detained or even treated otherwise after the proclamation of the former President, due to his autocratic rule. After the ushering in of the new dispensation, many believe that some of the laws are not active due to the new found democracy.

Despite all the efforts, FGM still persists in the Gambia and advocates now call on the Government to fully implement the anti-FGM law and safeguard the looming threats of this harmful practice on the girl child.

Mbassey Manneh, a gender and child rights advocate believes that FGM has been mitigated compared to previous years; that people are not celebrating as they did previously but rather do the practice in disguise.

“There is an urgent need to stop the practice fully and the law should be applicable because this is not protecting the human rights of the girl child,” Manneh remarked; that the practice is detrimental to the future of the girl child.

Manneh said the current Gambian vice president is someone who would have been a key champion to end FGM because she has been in the crusade prior to her involvement in Governance. She suggested for stakeholders to continue talking about the issue especially at the National Assembly level and to include law enforcement agents to discuss the implementation of the law.

Similar things were shared by Musu Bakato Sawo, another Gender Activist and a senior member of ‘Think Young Women’, one of the Gender Rights groups leading the campaign against FGM and gender base violence.

Mrs. Sawo said a lot more has to be done for the law on FGM to be effective to eliminate these harmful practices in our societies; that the existence of the laws alone cannot eliminate the practice; that a lot more needs to be done to effect the implementation and enforcement of the laws; that the state must develop guidelines on how Government Ministries, especially that of Justice and Interior should address cases of FGM and child marriages and that the guidelines should clearly spell out the following:

the responsibilities of the Ministries and Agencies concerned;
referral procedures within the Government structure;
mandate of officials who would handle such cases and remedies, and
protection measures for victims of FGM and child marriages.
Mrs. Sawo expressed the believe that the total elimination of FGM in the Gambia cannot be realized with the sole intervention of the state; that the continued and active involvement of CSOs, NGOs, the media, activists, the private sector and other relevant stakeholders, is relevant as well. “In playing our part, we should take a more proactive role in litigating on issues concerning FGM and child marriage, and test existing legislation in the domestic Courts to give them effect,” she suggested.

Musu Bakato Sawo

A young Lawyer and Human Rights Advocate in the person of Ngenarr Yasin Jeng, believes that people still condone the practice for various reasons despite it being outlawed in the country.

“People believe that they are free to do it and no one will report them because of ‘maslaha’ or favors,” she said; that some people still think that it is the law of the former regime and does not exist now because the former regime is no more. She said since the Barrow administration has not come out to clarify this and tell people to abstain from the practice, other people will continue to do it.

Barrister Jeng

Fatima Jarju, Program Assistant for ‘Think Young Women’, said despite the ban, the practice still exists. “The state should fully intervene in making sure people are aware of the law and its enforcement which should be implemented fully without favor,” She said.

What does the law say?

According to a UNICEF report published by Reuters, about 75% of girls in Gambia were cut and 30% married before the age of 18, before the ban.

The Women’s (Amendment) Act 2015 banned FGM and imposes punishments for anyone found wanting. In Section 32 A, an imprisonment of three years and or a fine of fifty thousand Dalasi for persons that engage in the practice and life imprisonment where death has occurred as a result of the practice, will be imposed on anyone found wanting. Section 32B imposes a three-year jail term and or a fine of fifty thousand Dalasi for persons that aid, abet or facilitate the process of circumcision and a sum of ten thousand Dalasi for those persons who have knowledge of the commission of the practice, but willfully failed to report it.

The Women’s Amendment Act 2015

Implications on the Girl Child:

Ms Jarju said most girls who underwent FGM, go through sexual and reproductive health complications. “More particularly during their menstrual period, also most go through pain or less sexual pleasures when they got married and some have bigger complications during child birth.”

She also cited fistula disease is most common to those who have gone through FGM.

Fatima Jarju programs assistant Think Young Women

Mbassey believes that FGM is violation of the right of the child because their opinions are never sought; that some children experience long-lasting negative effects of trauma and view their future with trepidation, especially for those who are cut wrongly; that as time goes by, women experience complications up to their marital lives and during child birth.

Manneh said some of these circumcisers are not well trained and inherited the practice from their mothers.

Mbassey Manneh

It is reported FGM involves the cutting away of parts of the outer female’s genitalia but statistic estimates show that approximately 80% of women have gone through this practice during their teen years and that the practice is said to be carried out by nearly all ethnic groups in Gambia.

President declares a state of emergency again

The President has again declared a state of public emergency by proclamation. This follows the lapse of the previous one which was declared on 26th March, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic which was extended by the National Assembly for 45 days on 3rd April, 2020. However, when the executive put forward another request for a further extension of forty five days the national assembly rejected it. In his statement which is published in full below the president indicated that he lacked the cooperation of the National Assembly on a matter of national importance. His statement is as follows:

Fellow Gambians,

No one doubts the existence of the Coronavirus pandemic and the destruction it is causing to life and economies around the world.

You will recall, that on 3rd April 2020, in response to the declaration on the pandemic by the WHO, the National Assembly passed a resolution that extended for (45) days the state of public emergency, which I declared on 26th March 2020 in accordance with Section 34(1)(a) of the 1997 Constitution.

At the time, only two Covid-19 cases were confirmed in The Gambia, whereas 171 other countries were reporting alarming levels of infections. As at the date of my declaration, according to the WHO, the virus had killed 20,834 people globally. Today, the number has increased to over 300, 000. This makes it ever more necessary for stricter measures to be taken.

To respond squarely to the situation, my Government adopted a number of measures, through emergency regulations pursuant to the Emergency Powers Act.

The objective for this line of action was to strengthen our efforts to break the chain of transmission of the virus in the country. Regulations were also laid down to ease the expected hardship that would arise from the measures and regulations. These included the Essential Commodities Emergency Powers Regulations, which seeks to protect the public from price hikes of essential commodities, such as rice, sugar, flour and cooking oil. To ensure adequate food supplies in the country, the export of essential commodities during the state of public emergency was banned.

Other regulations included restrictions on public transportation, open markets and the closure of non-essential public places were part of the efforts to break the chain of transmission of the virus in our country.

The Government is very much aware that strict measures imposed during the state of public emergency would affect lives in many ways, but handling Covid-19 is a matter of survival and saving lives first, and not about individual interests.

As at today, 19th May 2020, The Gambia has 24 officially confirmed cases of coronavirus infections, and one reported death. Our immediate neighbour, Senegal, has over 2,400 cases, and 25 reported deaths. Globally, over 4.5 million people have now been infected, with over 300,000 reported deaths.

Based on their professional opinion, our health experts have predicted that if the right measures are not taken to successfully break the chain of transmission in the country, over 180,000 people will be infected in The Gambia. This will result in an estimated death toll of over 9,000 people.

Guided by these alarming figures and the fact that the state of public emergency extended by the National Assembly expired yesterday, 18th May 2020, my Government requested the National Assembly on 16th May 2020 to extend their resolution by another 45 days. The objective for this is to maintain, if not redouble, our efforts to combat Covid-19, which continues to pose a clear danger to our small country.

Unfortunately, on the day the Government’s request for an extension was tabled, the National Assembly resolution failed to carry the votes required to extend the state of public emergency. 23 members of the National Assembly voted in favour of an extension, while 25 members voted against it.

Fellow Gambians,

Coronavirus knows no boundaries, and it has no respect for any person. It attacks, infects and kills without regard to status, ethnicity, religion, political or any other type of association. Without a state of public emergency, there will not be any emergency regulations. Without the emergency regulations, we cannot effectively fight against this deadly virus that threatens our lives and livelihoods. This is the time that we must all come together as a nation, and put the interest of the country first and high above politics. This is about all of us as a people bound by a common destiny. It is a period to show our political maturity as a democratic society capable of putting all narrow interests aside for the national interest.

Fellow Gambians,

The 1997 Constitution has empowered the National Assembly, and provided it with the responsibility under these circumstances to support the Government’s efforts to combat Covid-19 under Section 34(5) of the Constitution. With regret, however, our August Assembly has failed to act on its powers.

As a result, my Government and I owe it to the people of this country to protect them from this grave danger. It is my duty to act, and it amounts to a deadly abdication of responsibility if I fail to take the right action in the face of an obvious threat to the lives of our people.

In light of this, I have invoked the powers conferred on me by Section 34(6) of the 1997 Constitution to further declare by proclamation published in the gazette, effective today, 19th May 2020, that a state of public emergency continues to exist in the whole of The Gambia. Since the National Assembly is no longer in session, this state of public emergency shall last for 21 days in accordance with Section 34(2) of the Constitution.

Accordingly, I have also re-issued the emergency regulations that were in force before the state of public emergency expired. They include the regulations declared on 26th March 2020 and extended by the National Assembly on 3rd April 2020.

These re-issued emergency regulations shall also continue to be in force in line with the proclamation that I have made today. I call on the general public to appreciate that this is in the best interest of the whole nation, and I pray that the Almighty God continues to bless and strengthen us as a united people.

I thank you for your kind attention.

Why Did The National Assembly Adjourn Monday 18 MAY Sitting?

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

The Nation would recall that COVID- 19 has compelled the National Assembly to adjourn its regular Session pending advice to restore normal sessions.

However, the Assembly has been holding emergency sittings to fulfil constitutional mandates in order to strengthen the country’s resilience against the virus.

Since the State of Emergency declared on 26 March was required to last for 45 days, the President had the obligation to show his respect for parliament by bringing a motion for the extension of the state of emergency before it lapses.

Section 98 of The Constitution empowers the President to request for a sitting of the National Assembly to be summoned to discuss urgent state matters.

The President wrote to the Speaker on 12th May to summon a sitting.

On Friday 15th May, a meeting was convened. On Saturday 16th May the Attorney General and Minister of Justice introduced his motion for resolution to extend the state of Public Emergency and further affirm the regulations.

The motion was rejected. After the rejection some members wanted to introduce another motion .However Standing order 29 states that once a motion is accepted or rejected, one cannot bring another motion contrary to it on the same issue during a session unless the original motion is revoked or rescinded.

On Monday 18th May none of the Ministers were in the National Assembly building. Members were seen exchanging views on what happened and the implications.

The Speaker took note of the uncertainty and indecisive ness as to whether to adjourn sine die or meet to rescind the previous decision and hold the government accountable to its request. She relied on standing order 13(1) to adjourn to today to enable members to rethink the way forward.

Views are divided on when the Emergency will lapse. However, the rejection of the extension means that once the 45 days expires the emergency will lapse.

When it does the executive will have the power to declare another state of emergency that would last for 7 days if The National Assembly is in session.

If the National Assembly is not in Session it will last for 21 days.

The lessons are clear. The declaration of a state of emergency is just word on paper. What gives essence to the declaration are the regulations to be enforced.

Whether a resolution for the extension of a state of emergency proposes 10 days, 10 weeks or ten months section 34 Subsection 5 b states “any resolution nay be revoked at any time by a resolution supported by the votes of the majority of all the members of the National Assembly.”

Once The Emergency proclamation ceases to have effect,the regulations will also cease to have effect under section 5 of the Emergency powers Act.

Hence the National Assembly is not limited in its oversight role by the number of days it adds to the maintenance of a state of emergency and its regulations. The time it should give depends on what is reasonable and justifiable in putting material, human and financial resources into action to address the Pandemic.

This is how matters stand.

Residents of Border Villages in URR Express Fear over Spread of COVID-19 Pandemic

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By Lamin Fatty

Residents living around the border villages within Upper River Region North have express fears over the spread of the corona virus in their communities because of continuous border crossing of people to and from Senegal.

The residents lament that the movement of people across the borders of URR North to and from Senegal is just as normal as it used to be amid the corona virus outbreak.

In order to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, only three border crossing points have been identified and considered for control and monitoring of persons. These are Sabi, Nyamanari and Sare Ngai villages. However, many other border crossing points where people move freely in and out of the Gambia to Senegal are not controlled or monitored.

This reporter visited Gunjur Kuta and JamJam Kolly villages in Wulli West and Kanapeh village in Wulli East to see the situation for himself.

Musa Sanneh a residentof Jamjam Kolly in Wulli West told this reporter they do not feel safe as far as COVID-19 is concerned; that the borders are not secure despite the declaration of border closures amid the declaration of the state of public emergency by the president, in the country; that people continue to go in and out of Senegal, a hot zone as far as the COVID-19 pandemic is concerned, without protection or preventive measure. Sanneh said the Police should patrol their village and surrounding which is two kilometers from the Sare Ngai Police Station. Sanneh claims to see people coming with their herd of cattle from Senegal to sell them in the country almost daily.

According to this reporter, the same situation prevails in Sare Demba Toro village in Sandu District and Dingirin and Bolibanna villages in Tumanna and Kantora Districts respectively; that in Sare Demba Toro village in Sandu District, the movement of people across the border to the village of Jamkulori in Senegal, is as normal like never before; that other border crossing points on the south bank of URR to the Casamance region of Senegal, is also normal.

‘‘People of this area heard of the border closure on the media only. As you can see, people from these neighboring villages in Senegal travel to and from the Gambia for their businesses as they have been doing before. Some even go as far Tamba Kunda and Velingara. We hardly see or meet security agents on patrol. Therefore, it is obvious that we are not safe,” a fearful and concerned resident of Bolibana village told this reporter.

For the information of the reader, URR is bordered with Senegal on both the northern and southern part of the region and villagers cohabit and visit each other as members of the same family.

Magistrate’s court convicts 17 drivers for overloading

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By Nelson Manneh

Seventeen drivers have been convicted all together for overloading at the Brikama Magistrate’s Court since the proclamation of the state of emergency by the Government.

Section 2 of the Regulation on the Restriction of Public Transport Emergency Powers Regulations 2020 prohibits drivers from carrying more than half the numbers of passengers they are licensed to carry.

So far nineteen commercial vehicle drivers were arraigned at Brikama Magistrates’ Court since the security officers started to enforce the restriction of public transport emergency powers regulations, 2020.

Brikama Magistrate’s Court set a special courtroom were commercial vehicle drivers who are accused of violating the regulations are to be tried.

The convicted drivers were: Ousman Touray, Ebrima Trawally, Ousman Jallow, Modou Jarju, EbrimaTrawally, Alhassim Jallow, Edi Colley, Muhammed Camara, Baba Tamba, Muhammed Kaita, Abdou Ceesay, Sheik Njie, Ebrima Sanneh, Seedy Kolley, Buba Kujabie, Samba Jallow and Lamin Darboe.

These Commercial vehicle drivers were arraigned before Magistrate N. Njie of Brikama Magistrates Court on different days and they were all convicted and fined five thousand dalasis each which they paid.

The drivers were all charged for carrying more passengers than they are authorized to carry, contrary to section 2(1)(a)punishable under section 9 (1) of the restriction of public transport emergency powers regulations, 2020.

According to the particulars of the offence, all these drivers in West Coast Region The Gambia, were found carrying a higher number of passengers contrary to the provisions of the regulations.

Police Arrest 52 Boys For Playing Football At Night

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By Nelson Manneh

Personnel of the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) together with other security operatives have recently arrested fifty-two boys in Banjul for playing football at night.

According to Mr Sanjally Trawally, the Deputy Director of Health Promotion and Education at the Ministry of Health said these security operatives were given intelligence tip that there are boys in Banjul who always play football at night. He said when the security personnel went there; they arrested the fifty-two boys.

When asked about the whereabouts of these boys, Trawally said he cannot confirm their situation, adding he can’t tell.

He said the Senegambia Tourist Security Unit (TSU) deployed personnel along the beachside to do patrol and mounted checkpoints around the Tourism Development Area to limit access to only essential workers and also enforce safe spacing.

“Mansakonko Taskforce engaged on routine patrol at markets to ensure non-essential vendors are closed as per the stipulated opening and closure time and engaged them to observe safe spacing and abiding by the Public Emergency Regulations,” he said.

Trawally said the task force has also intercepted two motorists who were riding with unregistered motorcycles, that they are believed to be Senegalese but when they attempted arresting them, both absconded and left their motorcycles behind.

“Three communities and eighty-nine households have been sensitized on COVID-19 preventive measures using existing community structures,” he said.

Regarding the next steps the Ministry of Health will embark on, Mr Trawally said they will orientate regional Governors and district chiefs on COVID-19.

“Security is to open a post at Kerr Ardo as it is becoming a major route of entry to The Gambia. They will also consider testing low-risk contacts before discharge upon completion of mandatory follow-up,” he said.

He said that the Ministry will include the Immigration in the RRT to facilitate the deportation of non-Gambians sneaking into the Gambia.

“Engage private pharmacies to report clients presenting flu-like symptoms to the RRTs and strengthen surveillance at all points of entry,” he said.

Trawally said their Ministry would request for the general public to wait for further announcement from the Gambia government regarding the State of Public Emergency.

“As we approach the Eidul-Fitr (Koriteh), we would like to appeal to the general public and Imams to continue practising social distancing,” he noted.

Covid-19 And The National Assembly

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The Pandemic is becoming an enemy to democracy by restricting freedom of movement, association ad Assembly. It is also a threat to freedom of worship. It is an enemy to everything people treasure. It is a threat to human life and freedom. A state of emergency is declared when any phenomenon or organism is a threat to human existence. All National Assembly members should answer this basic question:

IS COVID-19 NOT A THREAT TO LIFE AT A LARGE SCALE?

IS IT NOT PROVIDED UNDER SECTION 34 OF THE CONSTITUTION TO DECLARE A STATE OF EMERGENCY WHEN A THREAT EXISTS?

WOULD IT BE A RESPONSIBLE THING TO SAY THAT THE THREAT POSED BY COVID-19 IS NOT EQUAL TO A STATE OF PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY?

IF WE ACCEPT THE EXISTENCE OF THE THREAT SHOULD WE NOT CREATE MEASURES TO ADDRESS THE EFFECTS?

This is why all decent people should speak with one voice and act with one will power to put it in the dustbin of history. All those who fail to join the fight either by abstaining from doing anything or diverting resources for the battle are on the side of the virus and history will indict them .

GBA President Says Adoption of Draft Constitution Will Usher in System Change in The Gambia

Gambia Bar Association President Salieu Taal said on Saturday if the draft constitution is adopted by Gambians, it will set the tone that will bring about system change in the country.

Taal said: “I think any party, any individual, any group that has the interest of the country at heart should not hesitate to throw their weight and support this constitution. This constitution will bring us the Gambia we want and the Gambia we deserve.”

He added: “I think it serves the interest of the Gambia now and in the future. We have to look at this (draft) constitution from the lens of patriotism not partisan. It is about the Gambia.”

According to him, this draft constitution like any other constitution is not perfect, adding ‘there are critics, rightly or wrongly, we have many issues in the draft, they don’t like’, noting that even though he personally does not like every aspect of the draft constitution, ultimately it is the greater good that matters and that is about consensus building.

On Political Actors

Barrister Taal thinks political actors should come out clearly to state their positions on the draft constitution. He holds the view that since most of the politicians were at the forefront in the fight for reforms, he assumes that they will support this draft constitution because that will back the ‘Gambia we want – the Gambia we decided’.

He adds: “I trust they will strongly support this draft.”

On Civil Society

Taal notes that civil society welcomes the decision to publish the draft and also present it to parliament, adding the role of the civil society is to remain diligent and to diligently pursue the process of tabling the bill to Parliament to referendum.

He said: “I have good faith that the state law office will publish the draft. After it is gazetted, it is important for civil society to engage all stakeholders to ensure that this bill passes to parliament. It is the parliament that will vote on the bill for it to pass. The threshold is too high – its 75% which is three-quarters of the parliament have to vote in favour of this bill to be sent for referendum. I think it is important, particularly for our NAMs, to appreciate that this bill is a reflection of the broad view of Gambians.”

He indicated that Gambians were consulted within the Gambia and abroad, different stakeholders were consulted including the National Assembly, and the Executive and other bodies were consulted separately. According to him, the combination of all those views has been brought forward as a draft.

“The CRC did come up with an explanatory note explaining why they took certain views and why they don’t take the other views. It is a fair democratic process, he said.

Section on Marriage

He said the final draft constitution has clarified the provisions on the first draft constitution and the 1997 constitution talking about marriage.

He added: “The current clause states without any doubt that men and women of full age have the capacity to marry. I think that is very clear as to who has the capacity to marry (men and women. I think that is very significant.”

Confirmation of Ministerial Appointments

Barrister is of the opinion that the section on the draft constitution dealing with the confirmation of the appointment of ministers by Parliament is a significant departure from the provision of the current constitution which gives the President the absolute power to appoint ministers.

He said: “The new provision in the draft makes appointment of Ministers by the President subject to the approval of the parliament. It means that parliament can scrutinise appointment of ministers and of course in line with the qualification set by the constitution. That will ensure that the right people are appointed by the President.”

Provision on Public Interest Litigation

The Gambia Bar Association President said one of the provisions in the draft constitution extends the scope of persons who can bring actions to enforce contraventions or attempts to contravene the constitution.

He added: “I think it’s a novel provision and a good provision. I think it allows interest groups (it could be environmental groups or any person, by themselves or by representatives, or the group they belong to), to take action before the court for an action taken or an action to be taken which is in contravention of the constitution. I think it is a very good provision. It means that the constitution is as good as its enforcement. It is a life document and it is the people of the Gambia who can make it work. There are good provisions in the constitution, but in the previous regime, the people were not able to enforce their rights for different reasons.”

Photo credit: Chronicle

A Reflection on the status of Civic Space in The Gambia after the removal of Jammeh

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ML Saidykhan

The Gambia has embraced a more open civic and political space for social justice organisations, movements and activists in the country compared to Yaya Jammeh’s time, although certain rights like those related to freedom of expression and rights to assembly remain limited because of lack of reforms, for instance, of the Public Order Act. The last three years under the transitional government have seen CSOs, and more specifically movements coming together on a number of occasions to take actions aimed at holding government accountable.

In the early months of the transitional government, marked by continuous interruption of electricity and water supply, a group of young activists held a sit-in at Westfield – the main square in Banjul. There was a lot of push and pull between #OccupyWestField and the government before a permit was issued, albeit with strong conditions. The #IamToufaJallow protest also brought together a broad coalition of activists and CSO’s to speak against rape after a woman made revelations to the media about how she was raped by the former president, emboldening other victims of rape to come forward and speak publicly about their ordeals. The naming and shaming of rapists are still on going, mostly on online spaces, and the government has promised to act on cases where they have enough evidence.

A group called #Jammeh2Justice also held a protest to counter another protest organised by supporters of the former president to demand his return despite all the atrocities he meted against Gambians for the over 22 years of his rule. The irony was not lost on many Gambians – who actually felt that the government should hasten the process of making Jammeh face justice – that Barrow’s government had given Jammeh’s supporters a permit for their demonstration. Many CSO’s and movements also found it unfair that this happened while the government was concurrently disrupting many of their planned demonstrations by denying them permits through the Public Order Act. The Public Order Act gives the government authority to deny or issue permits for protests. In some instances, government response to citizen agitation was violent and did not end well as in the case of Faraba where a protest against sand mining left two villagers dead.

The biggest protest in recent times was one organised by a movement called #3YearsJotna to pressure President Barrow to stick to his pre-election promise and step down after three years. There was a counter-protest to this by another movement called #Barrowfor5Years, and the #3YearJotna later organised a second protest to pile more pressure on President Barrow and make him honor his words. After much back and forth, CSOs and religious leaders played an instrumental role in negotiating for a permit on behalf of the group and its large followership. #3YearJotna thereafter got the permit, but with strict conditions from the police. According to some protesters, agent provocateurs allied to Barrow interfered with the protest, making it turn violent. We again witnessed police brutality marked with the arrest of activists, journalists, and the closure of two local radio stations. Some activists and all the journalists were later released and the closed radio stations allowed to re-open after lots of discussions and negotiations. Leaders of the #3YearsJotna movement were taken to court and released on bail.

The current government has taken minimal steps geared towards stopping or reducing corruption in public institutions. The promised Anti-Corruption Commission is yet to see the light of day. We have seen young people and communities raising their voices against Chinese investments that are not just destroying the environment but also affecting the livelihoods of many. In return, several of the young activists have faced arbitrary arrests and court cases while the Chinese fish meal factories remain open despite the push by communities affected to have them closed.

One thing that has come out clearly over the past few years is that we have a new kind of Gambian. People are empowered, they know their rights and are always ready to hold the government to account despite the unfavourable laws and slow reform processes that limit their civic actions. Gambian CSO’s are yet to become strong enough to hold government accountable as they remain limited by the failure to reform old repressive laws that inhibit space to organize independently. Furthermore, there exist weaknesses at the leadership level of NGOs in coordinating and leading CSO efforts aimed at holding government accountable, while the ability or inability of CSO’s to support progressive movements also affects the success rates of efforts to hold government accountable.

As outlined above, it is clear that most civic actions are led by young people’s formations and movements, successfully holding the government to account in many instances. Divisions, however, remain among the population, with politics and tribal affiliation only fuelling the divisions further.

The Janneh Commission, tasked with the recovery of embezzled funds and assets during Jammeh’s 22-year reign, has completed its term. The so-called white paper brought selective justice to the fore as a number of individuals named in the document were vindicated by the government while those not in their favor were not. It is also saddening that security sector reforms did not see much progress despite all the promises from Barrow’s government.

It is certain that Barrow’s government has in many cases used the repressive laws to deny citizens their rights of expression and assembly. The Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission ( TRRC) has been revealing the brutal nature of Jammeh’s rule, the atrocities it meted on Gambians and other people, and how these laws aided the regime at the time.

The National Human Rights Commission is giving certain hope to the Gambia, starting with their recent recommendation for the government to release 115 prisoners in order to curb the spread of coronavirus, and other positions the commission has taken to defend the rights of citizens.

The Constitutional Reform Commission (CRC) has submitted what is seen to be a very progressive draft constitution to the president for review and onward presentation to the National Assembly for a possible referendum. What is worrying are the delaying tactics deployed by President Barrow and his cabinet in presenting the draft to the National Assembly, I am sure that citizen groups and CSOs, in general, will not allow any form of delay.

At this point in time, actions of Civil Society Organizations and individual citizens remain reflective of the need and urgency for a new constitution and the speeding of other reform processes in the country.

Muhammed Lamin Saidykhan is a Human Rights Defender and Coordinator at ‘Africans Rising’;

#No2DictorshipAgain.

Support in the Fight against Corona Virus Continues As Jaka Dukureh Donates Bags of Rice to Vulnerable Communities

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By Makutu Manneh

Jaha Dukureh, a Gambian Civil Society activist has donated over 2,000 bags of rice and money to vulnerable communities in the country.

This gesture of Ms. Dukure is to support families during this global corona virus pandemic and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Ms. Dukure started the donation at her village of Gambisara and extended the gesture to communities in Kiang West, Jarra, Badibu and the URR. Some households within the Kanfing Municipality also received support from Ms. Dukure.

Ms. Dukure who partners with the National Youth Council, National Disaster Management Agency, Gambia Red Cross Society and Safe hands for Girls to distribute the rice, said she took money from ‘‘my own account to do this for my country.’’ that since she has been blessed by Allah, she wants to give back to her country especially during this time of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, when people are financially affected; that it is also another way to honour her mother who passed away when she was fourteen years old.

Mam Lisa Camara, the National Coordinator for ‘Safe Hands for Girls’ expressed the honour of being associated with Jaha, in distributing the rice.

Camara said it was very noble for her to take her personal money and give back to her country; that the donation will bring the much needed assistance particularly for women led households who are struggling to meet the needs of their families in these difficult times.

On behalf of his community, the Alkalo of one of the beneficiary villages applauded with delight, the gesture of Ms. Dukure, in receiving support from Jaha and her team during such difficult moments.

“We do not know her. Therefore, all we can do is to pray for her and thank her for the solidarity,” he said.

National Assembly Session Ends In Disarray

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The National Assembly met on Friday and Saturday 15th and 16th May, respectively, in what would have been considered a historic Marathon session on the State of Public Emergency .

The Attorney General responded positively on the issue of opening of (Lumos) weekly markets after consultation with councils to address the concerns of members.

He did indicate willingness to look at the content of all the regulations such as the closure of mosques and Educational centres in order to consider reasonable restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID 19.

The Minister of Health made a passionate appeal for members to take note that June is expected to be the peak period for the spread of the Virus and all measures must be taken to roll back the expectations.

He expressed that the various equipment are available and staff training has taken place. Inter sectoral collaboration is said to be in high gear. He appealed for an extension of 45 days.

The Minister buttressed the motion after members made their observations.

The motion required the votes on not less than three- quarters of all the members of the National Assembly. The majority rejected the motion to extend the state of Public Emergency for another 45days.

After the rejection, some National Assembly members attempted to introduce another motion but standing order 29 paragraph 3 states that “It shall be out of order to attempt to reconsider any specific question upon which the Assembly has taken a decision during the current Session except upon a motion to rescind the decision of which notice must be given.”

Hence , any new proposal was not admissible during the Session unless a motion is made to rescind the decision to reject the motion.

Monday is D Day. Will the National Assembly rescind its Saturday decision knowing that it could revoke the regulations any time by the vote of the majority? Will the state of emergency come to an end? Will there be another computation of the time when it is to come to an end? Has the National Assembly surrendered its leadership role in fighting COVID 19? Is the institution being consumed by its new discovery of its powers? Has it failed to take note of the old maxim that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Foroyaa will follow how the Assembly will restore its unity of purpose which was earning it the admiration of the citizenry.

What Is The Role Of Social Welfare Department In Protecting The Vulnerable Groups?

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QUESTION OF TE DAY

Foroyaa will approach the Ministry to find out how Social Welfare Department is positioned to assist the vulnerable groups during COVID-19.

This institution is established to address the concerns of the most vulnerable sectors of society. Hence it should have been the key institution responsible for the distribution of food assistance to the needy.

Gambia is a nation that has no welfare system to provide assistance to the needy without any stable source of income. Family support serves as the key source of support. Poverty is weakening the support base of families and government needs to strengthen the Department to enable it to provide relief to the vulnerable. A new policy is needed.

Lawyer Ousainou Darboe Says Draft Constitution is More Progressive than the 1997 Constitution

By: Yankuba Jallow

Gambian Lawyer Ousainou Darboe said on Saturday the draft constitution is more progressive than the Constitution of the Second Republic.

He added that it has introduced new things which were not part of the 1997 Constitution.

He said the draft constitution is a product of the wide range engagement between the CRC and the Gambian community both at home and abroad.

The senior lawyer said the chapter on leadership and integrity is a reflection of best practices in other countries. He said the human rights provisions have been expanded. He added that the draft constitution gives the people the right to question a declaration of state of emergency by the President.

The veteran lawyer made this statement at a forum organised by the proprietor of Paradise FM, Haruna Drammeh. The programme held at the American International University in Kanifing on Saturday night saw the following panellists Lawyer Fatou Jawo, nominated member Ya Kumba Jaiteh, Dr. Ismaila Ceesay and Professor Abdoulie Saine expressing their views on the draft constitution.

Lawyer Dr Lamin J. Darboe said there are many contradictions in the final draft constitution.

“There are serious contradictions there – between similar provisions talking about identical issues,” he said.

Darboe said it is too bulky and packed with none constitutional provisions with several contradictions.

Darboe said constitutions are supposed to perform particular functions.

“If you look at this (draft) constitution, the way power is shared between the different branches of government does not particularly appeal to me,” he said.

The legal practitioner said he does not understand why the National Assembly should be headed by a non-elected member.

“I don’t understand why the National Assembly should be headed by a non-elected member. I thought we put that kind of situation behind us but unfortunately the Speaker of the National Assembly, if this draft is accepted, will be a non-elected member,” Darboe said.

He said he does not understand the logic of taking the Speaker from outside the National Assembly.

“That to me is retrogressive. It is not progressive. The National Assembly must be able to control its own proceedings in their entirety,” Darboe remarked.

He added: “The Constitutional Review Commission cannot impose a Speaker on the National Assembly.”

Barrister Darboe said the judiciary and the legislature have a role in the process of impeaching (removing) the President but in terms of removing a judge, the President only approves for the start of the process and when it is completed, he (the President) writes to the judge informing the person of his or her removal.

“The judiciary cannot punish itself and that is what happens in the case of removing judges. That is not fair,” he said.

Darboe argued that the pension benefits for the judiciary are far better than that of the National Assembly.

“In fact the National Assembly retirement benefits is not mentioned,” he said, adding “if the President and the superior court judges have their rights spelt out in the constitution, why will the National Assembly, a core-equal branch of government, be subjected to inferior legislation as far as retirement benefits are concerned,” he said.

The constitutional lawyer disagreed with the provision that the offices of the majority and minority leaders be made constitutional offices.

“These are internal control mechanisms. There is no reason to elevate them to a constitutional office,” Darboe said.

Darboe said there are several conflicts in the final draft constitution.

“I don’t think this constitution should be supported. I don’t think it necessarily reflects the views of Gambians,” Darboe said.

He criticised the CRC for copying and pasting the 2010 Kenyan Constitution. Darboe said there are controversies in the draft constitution. He opined that laws cannot be made retrogressively, therefore the counting of the tenure of the President cannot commence in 2017.

“I believe in the interest of the rule of law, the counting should begin in 2021. The term, if you follow the law, has to commence in 2021,” Darboe said.

The lawyer said the presence or absence of the word (with or without the word secular) does not make any difference. He said the rights of all faiths have been guaranteed.

On the participation of the Gambians in Diaspora, Darboe said once you are a Gambian whether at home or in the Diaspora you should have the right to vote and contest in elections.

Lawyer Fatou Jawo, deputy president of National Youth Parliament. Said the constitution is a progressive one compared to the 1997 Constitution. It was consultative and people’s views and aspirations have been included, she added.

She said the introduction of two-term limit, women representation in the National Assembly, rights of the youth, an independent institution like the anti-corruption commission made the draft constitution a progressive one.

“I think the CRC did a wonderful job. The (draft) constitution is the reflection of the will of majority The Gambians because the consultation was very much intense and rigorous to the extent that even the Diasporans were reached out to,” she said.

On the term of the incumbent, Jawo said the counting of President Barrow’s tenure should begin in January 2017, adding he should honour the wishes and aspirations of the people.

She opined that the absence of the word ‘secular’ does not make a difference, adding no person or authority has the power to declare the country a religious state.

Counsel Jawo opined that the Speaker should be elected from the elected members of the house and not outside.

She said youth representation is not adequately provided.

“Leaving out the young people is discriminatory,” she said.

Professor Abdoulie Saine said the draft constitution is a good one. He said the draft failed to include the term secular.

“I believe it should have included the term secular, but they took the easy way,” he said.

He said secularism protects all faiths and minorities. He added that the CRC succumbed to the general argument of the majority.

Professor Saine said the counting of President Barrow’s term should begin in 2017.

Professor Saine opined that the Speaker and the two deputy speakers should be elected from the members of the National Assembly and not outside.

Nominated member of the National Assembly, Ya Kumba Jaiteh said the draft is a progressive one adding the drafters have ousted the President’s power to nominate members of the National Assembly.

Dr. Ismaila Ceesay said the draft is a progressive document, adding it passed three stages test of legitimacy, participatory and inclusivity. He added that the provisions of the draft are better than the 1997 constitution.

Ya Kumba said the draft has provided enough protection for people of all faiths therefore it is needless to add the word secular.

Dr. Ceesay said, President Barrow should exercise leadership and accept this term to be counted as his first term.

Dr. Ceesay said there are provisions that are discriminatory to the Diaspora in terms of participation in elections.

He said the Speaker should be elected from the members of the National Assembly.

Ryan Giggs’ Club Extend Gambian Left-back Touray’s Contract

By Sulayman Bah

Former Manchester United greats, Ryan Giggs and his likes have renewed the contract of Gambia’s Ibou Touray.

Touray joined the side from Nantwich Town in 2017, helping them gain promotion to the English fourth tier, three divisions below the Premier League.

A former Everton FC graduate, Ibou’s deal would have elapsed this June.

Due to the current global crisis triggered by the pandemic, club owners are trimming down players and operating a slimmer budget.

In a clear out seeing eleven out of 22 players released, the 26-year-old scorpion is one of those to have had his deal extended at least until end of the 2020-2021 football season.

Born in the UK to a Gambian parent, the defender switched his allegiance to play for Gambia in 2016 under Sang Ndong’s stewardship.

Police Grant Two Suspects Bail Over Brikama Fire Incident

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By Mustapha Jallow

Two persons who were arrested for their alleged involvement in the Brikama fire incident have been granted bail, Police spokesperson said.

He added: “Their arrest is in connection to the start of the fire and failure to control it.”

When asked whether the two are nurses of Brikama health centre, he responded: “I’m just not sure if they are really. They are residents of the hospital quarters but I can’t tell their designation within the health department.”

According to the Police spokesman, preliminary investigations have revealed that a pile of rubbish was being burnt from the quarters of the hospital around the canteens, which fire spread to cause the disaster at the market.

“The two individuals have been arrested and currently helping the police in their investigations,” he said.

GCCI Trade Fair Center Estimated at D9 Million

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By: Kebba AF Touray

Minyang Jobe, Board Member and Project Coordinator for the GCCI’s (Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry) International Trade Fair Center, told journalists that the total cost of the Center is estimated to cost over nine million Dalasi.

Jobe disclosed this recently during an interview with journalists at the construction site of the said Center situated in Bijilo.

‘‘I cannot give you the exact amount because construction is still in progress. But we had an estimate from our contractor that the project will cost over D9 million dalasi. Today we have so far spent up to 6.7 million dalasi. With good fiscal discipline, we have managed to make some savings. The International Trade Fair Center has an estimated size of 200 square meters. This is much bigger than the size of the stadium where previous trade fairs were held.’’ Jobe said; that they are not only hoping to host trade fairs at the center, but it will be used as revenue generating center through fund raising programs such as gala dinners; that they are hopeful to recover the money spent in the construction of the site.

Speaking about the capacity of the center, Jobe said it will accommodate four hundred and fifty tents and will still be able to house an excess of four hundred others. Jobe said he cannot exactly say the time they will spend to recover the construction costs, but that their accountants have done the costing which he said will help them establish the recovery process within the period and as well strengthen proper fiscal spending.

On his part, GCCI President Edrissa Mass Jobe said with the change in their initial trade fair schedules, there will be minor changes adding that with the new ground, there will be several trade fairs with longer periods; that the ground belongs to them and it requires no payment.

“Sometime we should have the flexibility to give back to the sectors of businesses that do not have the capital especially the vulnerable groups such as young people and women.

This center belongs to us and the beauty of it is that it increases our flexibility and effectiveness in delivering trade fairs,” the GCCI president concludes.