Tuesday, November 28, 2017

"The Commission of Inquiry enjoys the full support and confidence of the Barrow administration", says a State House source

President Barrow with Commission members

Over four months of eye-popping deliberations to date, the Commission of Inquiry into the illicit wealth of ex-dictator Yaya Jammeh has conducted itself - individually and collectively - with dignity and decorum reflecting the high moral and intellectual caliber of its members.

Under the Chairmanship of  Mr. Surahata Janneh, it is our view - one shared by many - that the proceedings have been fairly conducted, up to this point, with a degree of professionalism and decorum that holds great promise for a country emerging from 22 years of one of Africa's most brutal, incompetent and corrupt dictatorship.

The three members of the Commission have been competently served with equal professionalism and unmatched dignity by Mrs. Amie Bensouda  in her capacity as lead counsel.  Despite this or in spite of it, as should be expected, there are criticisms, legitimate as well as unfounded ones, recently, including accusations that the lead counsel is conflicted in the case of the sale of the Kairaba Beach Hotel.  It has also been implied during the course of the deliberations that she may also be a potential witness in other cases that may come before the Commission. 

As a result of these criticisms and despite Mrs. Bensouda's public assurances that she has never acted on behalf of the former president or any of his close business associates, and if there is any appearance of a conflict, she will be the first to bring it to the attention of the Commission members and Gambians and to recuse herself. 

In anticipation of further use of this strategy as a means of discrediting or intimidating the Commission, as implied by Mrs. Bensouda's statement that she will not be intimidated, in response to the witness counsel's accusations, we reached out to a State House source who in response to our inquiry assured Gambians and the general public that "the Commission of Inquiry members and the lead counsel, Mrs. Bensouda, enjoy the full confidence and support of the government of President Adama Barrow."

The State House official went further to suggest that if any person has objections to anyone sitting on the Commission or serving as counsel, the proper and prudent measure to take is through court action; let them challenge any individual's fitness to serve in a court of law.  Character assassination and any form of peddling false accusations will not wash and can only strengthen our collective resolve to hold accountable those responsible for squandering the nation's meager resources that brought the Gambian economy to its knees over the 22 years of Jammeh's dictatorship. 

Similar appointments to previous Commissions, the source continued, have been challenged in the past before the courts.  It was none other than Mr. Fafa E. Mbai who challenged the appointment of Justice Aboagyi to a Commission by Sir Dawda at the Supreme Court.  Hon. Hamat Bah, leader of the NRP also challenged the appointment of Justice M. A. Paul to preside in their sedition case.  His took place at the Court of Appeals.  It is not for lack of precedent to resort to the courts for redress.  Amadou Samba or any other witness before the Commission can do likewise.

Conversely, this may have been the reason why the Chairman had the cause to remind witnesses before him that the Commission is not a court of law but a fact finding inquiry into the financial dealings of the ex-president where normal court procedures do not necessarily apply.

The task before Commission members, though challenging, is not insurmountable if the public continues to provide the necessary input and support by refusing to be party to a concerted effort orchestrated by vested interests - from within and without - whose main aim is to muddy the waters and to deflect the attention of the public away from the evidence being generated by the probing questions of Commission members and Mrs. Amie Bensouda.  The important work of the Commission must neither be impeded nor derailed.

Paradise Papers exposes powerful African politicians

In SOUTH AFRICA, an Isle of Man trust linked to former president Nelson Mandela has emerged following a legal battled waged over the trust's million dollar bank accounts after Mandela's death.

Separately, major retail, medical and mining companies, including some with ties to South Africa's Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa, came under scrutiny for using offshore structures.

In NIGERIA, a civil society organization urged the country's Code of Conduct Bureau to investigate Senate President, Bukola Saraki, for false declaration of assets.  He is accused of not disclosing his interests in a Cayman Island during his political career.

In NAMIBIA,  the "Namibian" newspaper reported that the country's finance ministry was already investigating tax evasion in the fishing industry following reports about a mackerel company Pacific Andes.

In UGANDA, the powerful foreign minister and brother-in-law of President Museveni, Sam Kutesa, responded to revelations that he set up a trust in the Seychelles.  "I thought you could avoid, not evade, taxes but I found it was not practical." He said he did nothing with the company.  This is the same guy implicated in the Cheikh Tidiane Gadio's bribery and money laundering case in New York.

In ANGOLA, the opposition called for a parliamentary probe into the country's sovereign wealth fund after revelations from the Paradise Papers that the fund's investment manager moved millions of dollars offshore.

We have added the Paradise Papers to our continued investigations and campaign to trace the source and the finance destination of the $900,000,000 against an account of a company registered in The Gambia and China under Amadou Samba's name. 

We have so far found no Gambian or Gambian-registered companies in the Paradise Paper.  What is shown in the Panama Papers is the cross-referencing of the AMASA Company owned by Amadou Samba.

* This blog post is based entirely on the product of the ICIJ or the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists headquartered in Washington D.C.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The barbarism in Libya must cease

African migrants being sold in slave markets across Libya 
The European Union, the United Nations, African Union, ECOWAS were all slow in acting and the results have been catastrophic for hundred of thousands of African migrants who have been held captive, confined in small spaces fit to pack sardines, tortured, killed and maimed. 

Those who survive the inhumane treatment are sent to slave markets were they are sold at slave auctions for as little as $ 400 per human being.   The United Nations have declared the actions of the Libyan slave traders as crime against humanity whose perpetrators must be stopped, arrested and tried. 

But first, countries whose nationals are being traded as slaves must - individually - take proactive measures to put a halt to the barbarism being meted out by the various factions controlling individual regions of Libyan since the toppling of the Libyan dictator. 

Collectively, the African countries must act in concert with all the relevant regional bodies, including ECOWAS and the African Union, to apply diplomatic pressure on both the European Union and the United Nations to consider all options, including military action against the Libyan renegades. 

The United Nations, meanwhile, should station investigators on Libyan soil to apprehend the rogue criminals who capture and imprison African migrants for ransom - a human trafficking trade that has been going on for as long as the human wave of migrants started several years ago. 

The United States should have been a logical partner in this exercise, since they led the military action that toppled Qaddafi but because of the current occupant of the White House, it will be a pure waste of energy to attempt at bringing in the US into the fold.  Trump will simply not be interested in saving African lives.

The challenges facing the international community have grown complex because the signs and warnings of these horrific acts of inhumanity have been ignored for years by the European Union whose main preoccupation was protecting their borders and deporting those who made it through the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean.

The Gambia, the smallest of the African countries, is the second highest per capita exporter of migrants to Europe through the Sahara Desert-Libya route.  Despite this proportionally high number of Gambians exposed to these dangers, its initial share of the $2 billion is a $4 million grant earmarked for the resettlement of 1,500 irregular migrants to be repatriated from Libya to the Gambia. 

In as much as the reentry program is an important component of the migrants' problem, their safety and humane treatment in Libya is paramount at this juncture.  Every African government, whose nationals are stuck in no-man's land, must have, as its top priority, their extrication to safety.  They cannot do it alone.  They must do it in collaboration with the European Union and the United Nations.         

Gambia to market offshore Blocks A1 and A4; challenges APC to commence arbitration proceedings

Gambia's Justice Minister, Ba Tambadou 
Gambia has recently announced plans to market two offshore oil blocks that it revoked from African Petroleum Corporation.

The two blocks in question are A1 and A4 that were initially licensed to APC by the previous regime of Yaya Jammeh.  The license was twice revoked without public explanation, the last revocation took place few months before the Gambian dictator was defeated in last December's presidential elections.

The new government of Adama Barrow has decided to put the blocks in question back on the market which led to the London meeting which took place earlier this month with prospective investors.  You can find the relevant block post here.

The African Petroleum Corporation has threatened to initiate arbitration before, the latest threat was as recent as August this year.  Given recent developments and reports of promising potentials of FAR's Blocks A2 and A5, their is renewed confidence on display by new government in Banjul to a have a clean break with APC.

At the London meeting, the Justice Minister Mr. Tambadou was quoted by Reuters as saying his government respects APC's choice to initiate arbitrating proceedings but it is his government's right also to market its blocks and that includes A1 and A4, thus calling APC's bluff.   We'll see what APC's next move will be. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

1.1 billion barrels estimated by FAR in Blocks A2 and A5 in The Gambia, offshore

An Australian Securities Exchange listed oil and gas exploration and development company known in the industry as FAR Limited says that it has identified 1.1 barrels of resources in its two blocks offshore The Gambia i.e. blocks A2 and A5.

The resources are in the two prospects known as "Bambo" and "Samo".  According to company sources, operations are already underway to prepare for drilling in late 2018.   Industry sources also observed that it will be the first time that drilling is done in offshore Gambia since the adminsitration of Sir Dawda K. Jawara in 1979.

Blocks A2 and A5 cover 2,862 sq km within the Mauritania-Senegal-Guinea Bissau (MSGB) Basin and lie about 30 km offshore in 50 - 1,500m water depth.

From the 3D seismic data, FAR was able to identify the Bambo and Samo prospects.  Despite the quality of the seismic data available, FAR opined that more work needs to be done to improve its understand what's at stake and to further reduce the risk.

According to FAR, the opportunities in Blocks A2 and A5 "represent a huge prize, if successful."  And based on FAR's experience in its drilling operations in neighboring Senegal, the geological chance of success in the key reservoirs in the Samo prospects is "high for a frontier exploration well".   Success in the Samo well would be "truly transformational" for The Gambia and FAR, the firm says.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Senegal's former Foreign Minister, Chinese businessman charged in New York with conspiracy to violate the FCPA

Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, Senegal's former Foreign Minister 
Monday, November 20, 2017

Head Of Organization Backed By Chinese Energy Conglomerate, And Former Foreign Minister Of Senegal, Charged With Bribing High-Level African Officials

Defendants Allegedly Conspired to Bribe the President of Chad and the Foreign Minister of Uganda

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Kenneth A. Blanco, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), James D. Robnett, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (“IRS-CI”), and Angel M. Melendez, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), announced today the unsealing of a Complaint charging CHI PING PATRICK HO, a/k/a “Patrick C.P. Ho,” and CHEIKH GADIO with participating in a multi-year, multimillion-dollar scheme to bribe high-level officials in Chad and Uganda in exchange for business advantages for a Chinese oil and gas company (the “Energy Company”).  HO and GADIO were charged with violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), international money laundering, and conspiracy to commit both.  GADIO was arrested in New York on Friday afternoon and presented on Saturday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin Nathaniel Fox.  HO was arrested on Saturday afternoon and was presented today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Peck and ordered detained.

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “In an international corruption scheme that spanned the globe, Chi Ping Patrick Ho and Cheikh Gadio allegedly conspired to bribe African government officials on behalf of a Chinese energy conglomerate.  Wiring almost a million dollars through New York’s banking system in furtherance of their corrupt schemes, the defendants allegedly sought to generate business through bribes paid to the President of Chad and the Ugandan Foreign Minister.  As alleged, Ho’s Ugandan scheme was hatched in the halls of the United Nations in New York, when the country’s current Foreign Minister served as the President of the U.N. General Assembly, and then continued unabated upon his return to Uganda.  International bribery not only harms legitimate businesses and fair competition, but it also destroys public faith in the integrity of government.  And when this type of international corruption and bribery touches our shores and our financial system, as the alleged schemes did, federal criminal charges in an American court may very well be the end result.”

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco said:  “This alleged scheme involved bribes at the highest levels of the governments of two nations.  The Criminal Division is committed to investigating and prosecuting corrupt individuals who put at risk a level playing field for corporate competitiveness, regardless of where they live or work.  Their bribes and corrupt acts hurt our economy and undermine confidence in the free marketplace.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “The scheme described in this case boils down to these subjects allegedly trying to get their hands on the rights to lucrative opportunities in Africa.  They were allegedly willing to throw money at the leaders of two countries to bypass the normal course of business, but didn’t realize that using the U.S. banking system would be their undoing.  The FBI, our partners in the IRS and the law enforcement community work diligently day after day to protect the integrity of our financial institutions, and stop foreign entities corrupting international commerce.”

IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge James D. Robnett said:  “IRS Criminal Investigation operates worldwide and has the expertise to identify bribery schemes such as alleged in the Criminal Complaint.  Our Special Agents are especially skilled at piecing together these financial puzzles, even those that involve such high level participants.”

HSI Special Agent in Charge Angel M. Melendez said:  “These individuals allegedly offered millions of dollars in bribes to foreign officials, disguised as charitable donations, in order to seek business advantages. One used his position with a United Nations Council to further this scheme.  We will continue to aggressively investigate financial crimes committed by corrupt foreign officials while working collaboratively with our counterparts at the FBI and IRS.” 

According to the allegations in the Complaint[1] and other statements in the public record:

This case involves two bribery schemes to pay high-level officials of Chad and Uganda in exchange for business advantages for the Energy Company, a Shanghai-headquartered multibillion-dollar conglomerate that operates internationally in the energy and financial sectors.  At the center of both schemes is CHI PING PATRICK HO, a/k/a “Patrick C.P. Ho,” the head of a non-governmental organization based in Hong Kong and Virginia (the “Energy NGO”) that holds “Special Consultative Status” with the United Nations (“UN”) Economic and Social Council.  The Energy NGO is funded by the Energy Company.

In the first scheme (the “Chad Scheme”), HO, with GADIO’s assistance, caused the Energy Company to offer a $2 million bribe to the President of Chad in exchange for securing business advantages for the Energy Company in its efforts to obtain valuable oil rights from the Chadian government.  In particular, in exchange for the bribe, the President of Chad provided the Energy Company with, among other things, an exclusive opportunity to obtain particular oil rights in Chad without facing international competition.  GADIO, who is the former Foreign Minister of Senegal and who operated an international consulting firm, played an instrumental role in the Chad Scheme by, among other things, connecting HO with the President of Chad and conveying the $2 million bribe offer to the President of Chad.  HO compensated GADIO by paying him $400,000 via wires transmitted through New York, New York.

In the second scheme (the “Uganda Scheme”), HO caused a $500,000 bribe to be paid, via wires transmitted through New York, New York, to an account designated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uganda, who had recently completed his term as the President of the UN General Assembly (the “Ugandan Foreign Minister”).  HO also provided the Ugandan Foreign Minister, as well as the President of Uganda, with gifts and promises of future benefits, including offering to share the profits of a potential joint venture in Uganda involving the Energy Company and businesses owned by the families of the Ugandan Foreign Minister and the President of Uganda.  These payments and promises were made in exchange for assistance from the Ugandan Foreign Minister in obtaining business advantages for the Energy Company, including the potential acquisition of a Ugandan bank.

The Chad Scheme

As alleged in the Complaint, the Chad Scheme began in or about October 2014, when HO and GADIO met at the UN in New York, New York.  At that time, the Energy Company wanted to expand its oil operations to Chad, and to do so, it wanted to enter into a joint venture with a Chinese government-owned oil and gas company (the “Chinese State Oil Company”) that was already operating in Chad.  Earlier that year, the Chinese State Oil Company had been fined $1.2 billion by the government of Chad for environmental violations.  HO enlisted GADIO – who had a personal relationship with the President of Chad – to assist the Energy Company in gaining access to the President of Chad, with the initial goal of resolving the dispute between the government of Chad and the Chinese State Oil Company, and the ultimate goal of obtaining oil opportunities for the Energy Company in Chad.

GADIO successfully connected HO and the Energy Company to the President of Chad and to other Chadian officials.  HO, acting on GADIO’s advice, then caused the Energy Company to pledge a $2 million bribe to the President of Chad, in what was characterized as a “donation” for charitable causes.  GADIO later solicited from HO a $500,000 payment for GADIO’s firm, arguing that he should receive a percentage of the $2 million “gift” from the Energy Company to the President of Chad.

In reality, this “donation” was a bribe intended to influence the award of oil rights in favor of the Energy Company.  Following this $2 million pledge to the President of Chad, the Energy Company obtained a business advantage in its negotiations to acquire oil rights in Chad, in particular, by having the exclusive opportunity to purchase particular oil rights without facing international competition.  Ultimately, the Energy Company did not complete this acquisition, but instead purchased other oil rights in Chad from a Taiwanese company.  In exchange for GADIO’s efforts to facilitate the bribery of the President of Chad, HO caused $400,000 to be paid to GADIO’s firm, via two wires that were transmitted through a bank in New York, New York.

The Uganda Scheme

As alleged in the Complaint, the Uganda Scheme began in or about October 2014, when HO met at the UN in New York, New York with the Ugandan Foreign Minister, who had recently begun his term as the 69th President of the UN General Assembly (“PGA”).[2]  HO, purporting to act on behalf of the Energy NGO, met with the Ugandan Foreign Minister and began to cultivate a relationship with him.  During the year that the Ugandan Foreign Minister served as PGA, HO and the Ugandan Foreign Minister discussed a “strategic partnership” between Uganda and the Energy Company for various business ventures, to be formed once the Ugandan Foreign Minister completed his term as PGA and returned to Uganda.

In or about February 2016 – after the Ugandan Foreign Minister had resumed his role as Foreign Minister of Uganda, and his in-law had been reelected as the President of Uganda – the Ugandan Foreign Minister solicited a payment from HO, purportedly for a charitable foundation that he wished to launch.  HO caused a $500,000 payment to be wired to an account in Uganda designated by the Ugandan Foreign Minister, through a bank in New York, New York.  In his communications, HO variously referred to this payment as a “donation” to the reelection campaign of the President of Uganda (who had already been reelected) and as a “donation” to “support” the Ugandan Foreign Minister.

In fact, this payment was a bribe to obtain business advantages for the Energy Company in its efforts to secure contracts and ventures in Uganda’s financial and energy sectors.  HO also provided the Ugandan Foreign Minister, as well as the President of Uganda, with promises of future benefits, including proposing to partner with both officials’ family businesses in potential joint ventures.  In exchange, the Ugandan Foreign Minister assisted the Energy Company in obtaining business in Uganda, including by facilitating the Energy Company’s interest in potentially acquiring a bank.

*                      *                      *

HO, 68, of Hong Kong, China, and GADIO, 61, of Senegal, are each charged with conspiring to violate the FCPA, violating the FCPA, conspiring to commit international money laundering, and committing international money laundering.  The maximum penalties for these charges are as follows: five years in prison for conspiring to violate the FCPA; five years in prison for each violation of the FCPA; 20 years in prison for conspiring to commit international money laundering; and 20 years in prison for each charge of committing international money laundering.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Kim praised the outstanding work of the FBI and IRS-CI, who jointly conducted this investigation.  He also thanked the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), and the Department of Justice, Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, which provided critical assistance.  Mr. Kim noted that the investigation is ongoing.

This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit and the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Douglas S. Zolkind, Thomas McKay, Daniel C. Richenthal, and Shane T. Stansbury, and Trial Attorneys David A. Last and Paul A. Hayden of the Fraud Section, are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.
[2] Although the Complaint refers to the “Ugandan Foreign Minister” throughout for clarity, during the year that he served as PGA, he did not simultaneously serve as Foreign Minister of Uganda.  Rather, he resumed as Foreign Minister of Uganda shortly after his term as PGA ended.
Foreign Corruption
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Strong and confident leadership demanded of our politicians and men and women in uniform

Circa 1959 
At the height of our fight to rid The Gambia of Jammeh, there were many doubters as to whether we will be able to pull it off in 2016.  We happened to have been among those who were not expecting his defeat through the ballot box but through public protests employing Arab Spring tactics of civil disobedience.  Therefore, it was as much a pleasant surprise for us as it was for millions of Gambians and friends of the Gambia across the globe to dislodge an entrenched 22-year old brutal and corrupt dictatorship. .

Although skeptical of the election route, what was never in doubt was the power of the human resolve to achieve what looked, at the time, unachievable and thus the battle cry of the moment among the online activists: "Never Relent".   Our advice then, as now is never give up or surrender your core beliefs and values because your life is meaningless without them and a life without a set of values, in our view, makes you less of a human.

Although a child of the colonial era, born, raised and high school educated in the colony of Banjul, I have always felt liberated, enjoying all the inherent freedoms that every freeman and woman was endowed, even when the top three to four most senior police officers in the Police and the Field Forces were British and so were most of the Commissioners (now called Governors).  

This brings us to the incarnation of the Public Order Act of 1955, not by any colonialist or imperialist oppressor but by one of our own, a brutal and corrupt African dictator in the name of Yaya Jammeh that sent the top echelon of the United Democratic Party, including its leader to jail using the very same 1955 odious law.  It now appears that it is the same sword of Damocles that is being dangled over our heads by the transition government we all fought so hard to elect to usher in the New Gambia under new management and new orientation.  

Instead, the government decises to operationalize a relic of our colonial past that Jammeh used to jail his opponents and Governor Edward Windley used to crush the “Bread and Butter" riots of 1959.  

Whether the Barrow administration realizes it or not, the insistence by the Inspector General of Police to reverse the previous decision to allow the #OccupyWestfield protests is raising concerns among our traditional allies and friends abroad.  The trend is chilling as it is disappointing. 

If the Inspector General of Police cannot guarantee the safety of a few hundred peaceful demonstrators, as initially projected by the organizers, then Gambians have every reason to question his fitness to man the post.  The security of the country must also be in a much more precarious state than ever imagined to cause the denial of law abiding Gambians to exercise their inherent right to publicly display their displeasure at their government; even in the presence of ECOMIG troops in the country?   

ECOMIG’s mandate had recently been extended for one year with the simultaneous drawdown from the initial troop level of 4,000 to its current 2,500 stabilizing force level.  Can you blame laymen if the IGP’s claims are treated as suspect?  We believe we could do better, as a country, with more confident leadership from our politicians as well as our men and women in uniform, especially now. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

EDITORIAL: President Barrow must put his stamp on the transition government

President Adama Barrow 
When Gambians went to the polls last December 1st, their choice to lead the Coalition of 7 +1 was Adama Barrow.  He campaigned and won an election that the entire world, except Yaya Jammeh, acclaimed as free, fair and credible. 

In fact,  Barrow's election was historic as being the first time that a sitting dictatorship, with all the instruments of power still firmly under his control, was defeated at the ballot and democratically without a shot being fired. 

African dictators have lost power in the past but it has almost always been through the use force or the threat of the use of force.  Because of the uniqueness of our last December experience, we have been pleading with the new administration to avoid stepping on a very powerful and unique story that should serve as a platform to start the consolidation of out new found democratic freedoms. 

The Coalition government stumbled right out of the gates as some of us expected.  If you ask a dozen Gambians the cause for it, you are likely to get a dozen but one different answers.  The one reason they all share in common is that the majority of the cabinet lack experience in governance.  Whereas this common factor may not be sufficient reason for failure, it is a necessary condition for a slow start as cabinet members feel their way around the treacherous terrain.  Most, if not all, have been out in the political wilderness for over two decades. 

After almost a year at the helm, President Barrow and his team have made some progress, not of the earth-shattering kind, but progress nonetheless especially in the judiciary where discernible progress is being registered in appointing qualified and experienced Gambians on the bench.  Members of the Commission of Inquiry into the illicit wealth of the former dictator have been seated over three months ago and its live extended for an additional six month. 

The law establishing the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission is on its final stage of being tabled before the National Assembly.   The security sector has also been scheduled for restructuring.  This is by no means an exhaustive list because there are ministries where public information is thin. 

All of the gains enumerated here will come to naught if hard choices are not made in the country's economic management team.  A significant draw down of the ballooning domestic debt over the last decade must be made to start the reversal of the crowding out of the private sector that has been starved of cash from the commercial banking sector for investment purposes. 

The rebuilding effort  of the Central Bank must commence from the ground up after what has come to light at the Commission of Inquiry.   Without the restructuring of the civil service, it'd not be possible to successfully implement the reforms that must take place to set us on the road to economic recovery.         

#OccupyWestfield group has been issued with a permit to protest on Sunday, November 12th

President Adama Barrow 
After a week of much ado about nothing, the government of Adama Barrow has decided to allow the #OccupyWestfield group to protest at the Westfield Junction, a decision that should have been made last week to avoid the unnecessary rancor and vacillations that ensued.

However, the decision was finally taken by Hon. Ba Tambadou, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice who has been been selected by President Barrow to oversee the Interior Ministry while a substantive holder of the post is identified and appointed.  Hon. Mai Fatty's dismissal is unfortunate but as the saying goes in these parts it comes with the territory.  Ministers serve at the pleasure of the president and thus can be removed without offering reason(s) for the removal.  That is the prerogative of the President.  It is not a right but a privilege to serve in a cabinet post.

Regarding the protests, Mr. Alieu Bah of #OccupyWestfield speaking to us from Banjul confirmed that permission has been granted for his group to protest at the Westfield Junction on Sunday 12th November from 3PM - 6PM. 

To peacefully protest in a democracy is a right that must not be infringed.

The decision is a welcome relief that will serve as an outlet for pent up frustrations for a number of our youth - an important constituents of the Coalition -  frustrations resulting from the lack of progress in the provision of reliable supply of electricity, as seen from their vantage point.

Yes, we acknowledge the promises made by government and the efforts made for the realization of those promises which should not preempt the inherent right of every Gambian to publicly and peacefully express his or her dissatisfaction or otherwise without fear of arrest or worse. 

The government has shown, through action, that reasons advanced by the former Interior Minister that resulted in his decision to deny #OccupyWestfield permit were, in our view, without basis.

The refusal to allow the protest to proceed projected weakness and not confidence in our security forces to maintain order at all times.  It was also a grave mistake for the paramilitary forces to be on high alert and in full battle gear thus escalating a problem to unnecessary levels.  Let us leave such knee jerk reactions to dictators.

Today, we are all democrats.

President Barrow's government should consider memorializing Solo Sandeng in naming the Westfield Junction in honor of the UDP youth leader and to designate it as a zone for Gambians to peacefully assemble to show their opposition to or support of issues they consider to be essential to contributing to a stable and prosperous society. 

The Gambia needs a clean break from its dictatorial past by throwing away the Jammeh playbook.  Many Gambians will lend support to this or any other effort that will solidify our democratic gains.  These young people are the future of the country and must be seen as a reservoir of hope for the future of the country and not as a source of potential conflict and instability.     

Friday, November 10, 2017

Mai Ahmad Fatty has been fired as Gambia's Interior Minister, effective Friday November 10 2017

PR/C/6/Vol. 21(84)                                             

Media Advisory

Fajara, 10th November 2017 - The General Public is here by informed that His Excellency, Mr. Adama Barrow, President of the Republic of The Gambia, acting under the provision of Section71 (4) (b) of the Constitution of The Republic of the Gambia, has decided to relieve  Mr. Mai Ahmad Fatty of his appointment as Minister of The Interior with effect from today, Friday, 10 November 2017.  

Mr Fatty has been re-deployed to the diplomatic service. 

In the same vein, His Excellency, the President has assigned the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Honourable Abubacarr M. Tambadou to oversee the Ministry of The Interior until further notice.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

To what are Gambian migrants returning home to?

The European Union signed recently a D 200 million grant agreement with IOM and the government of the Gambia, represented by the Interior Minister, as part of the $ 2 billion EU - Africa emergency trust fund.*

The initial tranche is earmarked for the irregular migrants of 1,500 Gambians who will be repatriated from Libya, where many live in squalor and grim conditions and whose lives are under constant threat from human traffickers and bandits. 

According to local reports, the head of IOM said the project is designed to strengthen migration in The Gambia and also to raise awareness of 250 communities.  Awareness programs are also envisaged for the potential 2,500 migrants expected to return on migration options and alternatives which must include training programs to prepare them for reentry into an under performing economy. 

The IOM head emphasized the lengthy and complex nature of reintegrating migrants that must focus beyond economic integration but social, psychological and other aspects as well.  As part of the assistance to the initial batch of irregular migrants coming from Libya, the project provides € 65 (approx. D 3,600) to each of the returnees upon arrival in Banjul to cover their transportation fares to their respective towns and villages and also to take care of incidentals.  The figure has already raised a few eyebrows.

Returnees needs are subsequently assessed on a case-by-case basis to determine the type of assistance accorded to each.  The challenges facing government and returning migrants are huge.  It therefore requires careful and a realistic implementation schedule.  The European Union also must be prepared to make adjustments to the project design to accommodate concerns expressed by local and international development practitioners. 

The Oxfam is reportedly calling for more clarity in the design of these types of emergency projects to avoid them being repackaged as border security projects with no development goals.  The Oxfam EU migration policy adviser, recognizing the quick disbursement nature of emergency projects of the sort being envisaged, is calling for more transparency and accountability.   There are no "quick fixes" to the long and tedious process of reintegrating a group of migrants who have little or no skills to speak of to be successfully integrated into society.

Gambia's reentry program for returnee migrants will require, in addition to the Ministries of Interior, Trade and Youth and Sports, the robust and proactive involvement of  civic society organizations in the monitoring of its implementation by civil society organization specializing in such programs.  Because the stakes are high, the program must be properly implemented with some changes to the original design as suggested by Oxfam and others. 

Public awareness campaign utilizing both the public and private media must be mounted by the implementing agencies, as well as the government, to publicize project objectives.  Government must develop a communication strategy around the reentry program will help the general population understand the process and help, as part of community support mechanism, in easing the reentry pains that returnees are likely to encounter.

* This is the first in a series of blog posts that will examine certain aspects of the EU - Africa emergency trust fund including the implementation of this and similar projects in the pipeline.

Monday, November 6, 2017

EU drops mass deportation idea for African migrants - This is a republication

We've come a long way from exactly two years ago when the EU was contemplating massively deporting African migrants to their respective countries until the African leaders raised massive objection to the idea. 

President Macky Sall of Senegal led the way which ultimately resulted in the Europeans dropping the idea and replaced by the $2 billion Trust Fund that Gambia and other migrant-exporting countries are benefiting from.  We will be taking a closer look at the re-entry programs and how it will potentially impact The Gambia, in particular.

Here's the blog post we wrote on November 12th, 2015.

EU - African Heads of State Summit in Malta  

On the final day of the two-day summit of heads of state and governments of the European Union and Africa, the idea of an EU-issued travel document to African migrants to facilitate their deportation back to their countries of origin have been rejected.

The Africans strongly objected to "laissez passer" idea which would have been an EU-issued travel document.  According to the African Union Ambassador to the European Union the idea was unheard-of in international law.

Realizing that the idea would have meant that the EU would have had the power to determine one's nationality on behalf of the migrants country of origin, the idea was quickly dropped, preventing EU mass deporting African migrants.  The focus then was rightly directed at how to absorb the migrants by focusing on the long-term solutions of addressing the problem comprehensively.

The seed money for the proposed  $2-billion "Trust Fund" as additional aid package for participating African countries was approved by the EU, provided from the Commission's central budget with matching funds expected from individual EU Members States.

The  fact that the issue of readmission is central to the refugee crisis, it should not be exclusive domain of Europeans alone.  This issue was driven home more emphatically by the Senegalese president Macky Sall who was highly critical of the European and Western multinationals business operations in Africa.

The Senegalese president was clearly referencing the little-known and less publicized  UN's High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows led by Thabo Mbeki that estimated as much as $ 50 billion annually was being siphoned out of Africa by multinational companies - an amount that represents approximately twice the size of official development assistance.

It would appear from the European Union has abandoned is ill-advised approach of separate and unequal treatment of the Syrian and African migrants.  In addition to the "Trust Fund", Britain plans to increase its aid package in the next four years on education and job creation schemes.  Britain is also pushing EU countries into accepting failed asylum seekers.

The tone certainly changed on the second and final day of the Summit.  It is hoped that, in moving forward, the migration crisis will be viewed and treated as a global issue, requiring global solutions that must take into account the root causes - both man-made and natural - moving forward.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Press Release from #OccupyWestfield

#OccupyWestfield Official logo 
Gambia: Barrow government breaks promise to protect citizens’ right to peaceful protest and freedom of assembly

Banjul November 5, 2017- President Adama Barrow has reverted to the ways of his predecessor, dictator Yahya Jammeh, whose intolerance for criticism and disdain for protest, locked the tiny African nation in a rule of terror  for 22 years. Matters came to a head on Sunday November 5th, when the Ministry of Interior deployed military and police units to Westfield, in the Kanifing Municipality, a densely populated area, which hosts the majority of businesses, and residents.  The move by the Interior minister Fatty, was to deter public service delivery protests from going ahead, and intimidate the organizers and supporters in the process. 

The Inspector General of Police denied the group a permit to peacefully gather at Westfield, through the use of the Public Order Act, a law that Jammeh relied on in suppressing freedom.  This was the same law that was used to jail the entire United Democratic Party leadership, which ironically saw President Barrow ascend into the position of leadership, ultimately becoming president.

“What this new government is doing is very disappointing as it is worrying.  They are showing tendencies of a dictatorship, with their disdain for dissent.  It has not even been a year since we kicked out a previous dictator, who was notorious for levels of intolerance for citizens’ rights,” said Alieu Bah, the leader of the Occupy movement.
Occupy Westfield’s call for a nationwide protest is due to the dismal failure of the water and electricity company, which continues to plunge the country in darkness, a situation that has worsened under the Barrow administration. Although the new administration is not responsible for the technical insolvency of the electricity and water company, which has been unable to deliver basic supply of water and electricity for almost 40 years, it is nevertheless, obligated to respect the constitution, which allows for citizens to peacefully gather and express themselves, in whatever form, as long as such assembly is lawful. Added to this caveat, the current leadership of the United Democratic Party, which is now in power in a coalition government, challenged the very act that it is using to suppress the rights of Gambian’s to protest poor service delivery.  The case is currently at the Supreme Court.       

“The contradictions of this government are now clear for all to see.  They say one thing, and do the complete opposite.  Their credibility levels are diminishing by the day, which is disappointing for people like me that stood up to the previous dictatorship,” said Ali Cham- aka: Killa Ace, an activist, and the first musician exiled for standing up to Jammeh’s dictatorship in 2015.

A year ago, in the run up to the presidential elections, President Barrow, through the opposition coalition, made a specific pledge to repeal the notorious Public Order Act.  The coalition’s manifesto explicitly stated that: "Public Order Act, Laws of The Gambia 2009 gives too much power to the Inspector General of Police and does fetter freedom of association and assembly. The Coalition government will repeal any provision in the Public Order Act which is not reasonable and justifiable in a democratic society such as those which hinder peaceful procession to highlight public grievances which is the main tool for exercising civil society oversight over the governance process." 

It seems that the Barrow administration has forgotten that pledge. #OccupyWestfield, is not deterred by the show of heavy-handedness by the government under President Barrow.  The group’s right to freedom of assembly and the right to protest will not be surrendered.  The Gambia government has an obligation to promote and protest these rights.  The 1997 constitution guarantees us these rights, as do the plethora of regional, continental and international treaties. 

The fact that President Barrow, made several undertakings to uphold the rights of all Gambians, when he addressed the continental rights body last week, which Banjul continues to host, should at least prod this government to lead by example in respecting the rights of its citizens as enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.   Article 11 of the Charter states: Every individual shall have the right to assemble freely with others. The exercise of this right shall be subject only to necessary restrictions provided for by law in particular those enacted in the interest of national security, the safety, heath, ethics and rights and freedom of others. 

The #OccupyWestfield Movement is not a threat to anyone.  We have made this absolutely clear, to a point whereby our weapon of choice is a candle- something that signifies peace, spirituality, and power of the human spirit to endure in difficulty and preserver with hope. But our candles are being met with guns, bullets and batons.  Our supporters for peaceful protest are being met with soldiers that are ready to unleash violence.  Our calls for our rights to be respected as we demand for better service delivery, in the process asserting our rights to access basic electricity and water, are being ignored and silenced.  This was what former President Jammeh practiced with great success, in the process turning The Gambia into a state of fear and terror.  This is something that we will not accept.  This is unlawful and tyrannical in every respect.  We will exercise our rights.  We will continue to call for better service delivery and asserting our fundamental right to assemble, and to express ourselves.

For more information please contact: +220 7571117, +220 7309494, +220 7202981

Key dates and timelines:
October 26- Alieu Bah, a Gambian citizen posted a message on Facebook using the hashtag #OccupyWestfield, which called on Gambians to gather and protest the lack of service delivery (water and electricity);
October 31- the #Occupywestfield group applied for a permit from the Inspector General of Police to proceed with its planned protest, which would take the form of a candlelight vigil;
November 1- the Intelligence Agency invited the members of the group to an interview.  The meeting was meant to “screen” the members, and personal details were taken;
November 2- A meeting was held with the IGP, and other security chiefs, where the application for a permit was denied;
November 3- Meeting with the Minister of Interior, Mr Mai Fatty;

About #OccupyWestfield:

#OccupyWestfield is not a formal organization but a shared desire, even as it is a shared grievance, for the very basics of life namely: water and electricity. It’s a rallying call that took a life of it’s own and became a movement. It started as a hashtag on facebook for Gambian ctitzens to come out and protest peacefully and share their frustrations. It has since grown into a movement with a coordinating committee.

Sidi Sanneh Blog is not an organ of any political party

Sidi Sanneh 
sidisanneh.blogspot.com is the undisputed  flagship of blogs on the political economy of The Gambia and related subject matter.  

The brand was built on a carefully crafted reputation since the summer of 2013 as a reliable and accurate source of information for Gambians at home and abroad, as well as non-Gambians and friends of the Gambia.

At home, it is accessed by the political class, as well as professionals, public and civil servants as well as private business operators.  Students and the youth, in general, constitute an important part of the blog’s readership that assures them a reliable source of news and analyses.

The blog is followed by academics, researchers, diplomatic missions, UN agencies including the World Bank and IMF and numerous universities around the world.  Governments in the region are also an important consumers of our content.     

Our views on the economic and political developments of not only in The Gambia but in the region and across Africa are regularly sought by reporters representing international news agencies and outlets such as the BBC, Al Jazeera, Reuters, RFI, VOA and numerous others because they trust as a source of reliable information about The Gambia and Africa.

We also serve the diaspora communities across the globe regardless of political affiliation because we are non-partisan.  We are neither members of, nor affiliated with, any political party, to further guarantee our neutrality and editorial independence.

Sidi Sanneh      

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Jammeh Victims Speak : A Wax Media Video Production

Ebou Waggeh, CEO Wax Media 

It is our pleasure to introduce our readers to a video film by Mr. Ebou Waggeh, one of Gambia's leading TV producers, presenters, news reporter and editors who is CEO of Wax Media, a multimedia consulting company.

His film credits include by not limited to CNN's Sights and Sounds of The Gambia, a documentary that firmly placed The Gambia on the tourism map, The Making of the Second Republic, a documentary chronicling political events that led to the 22-year dictatorship of Yaya Jammeh and In a Nutshell, a documentary about Gambia's groundnut industry.

Prior to venturing as media entrepreneur with leading Gambia companies such as Africell, Q-Cell,Gambia Tourism Authority, Gambia Ports Authority, Pristine, UNDP as clients, Ebou Waggeh wasPrincipal Producer of News and Head of the Current Affairs Department of the Government's Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS)

Mr. Waggeh covered the public forum with several news outlets in attendance to cover the conclusionof the newly formed Campaign to Bring ex-Dictator Yaya Jammeh and his Accomplices to Justice.  The video is a record of the testimony of some of the victims of Yaya Jammeh, in their own words.

We find the video of the Victim Forum to be riveting in a very compelling way that Ebou Waggeh can.  The video captures every moment of each of the victims featured in the most vivid manner as they tell their horrid and dehumanizing stories of torture at the hands of Jammeh's accomplices.

The video documentary will certainly form an integral part of the 22-year dictatorship that an entire nation endured under Yaya Jammeh.   We hope that the victims' individual voices will help tell a story that will galvanize the world into action, as we have seen in the case of Hissene Habre.


NOTE: It appears that because of the large size of the video, we will not be able to upload it to the interface of this blog post.  Consequently, we will try linking this write up to our Facebook page.  We hope Facebook accepts the video.  Let's give it a try and see what happens.

Friday, November 3, 2017

#OccupyWestfield protest postponed pending further discussions with authorities, says protest leader

Alieu Bah, Leader of #OccupyWestfield  
On the phone to Banjul, Mr. Alieu Bah, the leader of the #OccupyWestfield confirmed that a meeting took place today between his protest group and government officials to discuss the stalemate caused by the recent decision of the Inspector General of Police to deny them permit to protest the persistent lack of electricity. 

According to Mr. Bah, who was accompanied by approximately a dozen of his #OccupyWestfield group, they met with the Interior Minister, Mai Ahmad Fatty, the IGP, President Barrow's Security Adviser, Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Managing Director of NAWEC, the Manager of Corporate Affairs of NAWEC and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior.

The Interior Minister reaffirmed government's position that the group's request for a permit to protest next Sunday was denied due to security reasons given that the recent emergence of the country from decades of brutal dictatorship has left the security of the country in a precarious state.  It is the view of government that every effort must be made and every precaution taken to preserve the delicate balance between the rights of every Gambian to free assembly and the rights of every within Gambia's borders to be guaranteed of their individual safety or safety of person.

The meeting was characterized by Mr. Bah as amicable and as a result, the request by the Interior Minister for another meeting scheduled for next week Wednesday was confirmed and agreed to by both parties. 

When asked what is the purpose of next Wednesday's meeting, Mr. Bah refused to speculate but reaffirmed his group's determination to still proceed with the protest regardless of the outcome of the next meeting because, according to him, Gambians earned the right, as a free people, to publicly display their grievances in a peaceful manner. 

Peaceful protest is considered by the #OccupyWestfield as an earned, under the new political dispensation, they will not willingly forfeit. To do otherwise would tantamount to abdication of their responsibilities as good citizens and strong believers in and advocates of democracy and the rule of law.         

The mental state of Gambia's health

Because of the interest shown, we'd like to share the blog post written on 16th September 2015 about the state of Gambia's mental health under Yaya Jammeh.  The youth problem facing the country is huge and we wish we, as a country, will focus more on finding solutions to our problems rather than the continuous partisan bickering.

Scary, staggering, distressing and deplorable were among the words employed in social media  to describe the number of Gambians suffering from some form of mental illness as reported by a local newspaper and quoting from The 2015 – 2025 Mental Health Policy.

According to the Mental Health Policy document, 91,000 or 10% of Gambians 15 years and above suffers from some form of mental illness.  Based on a 2004 World Health Organization estimates, 27,000 or 3% of Gambians 15 years and over I s suffering from a severe mental disorder.  118,000 or 13% of the adult population and according to the mental health expert who worked on the study, this figure is an underestimation.   When adjusted, the prevalence of the scourge is 25% or 1 in 5 Gambians, a figure comparable to figures in developing countries like Nigeria and Uganda.

Drug and alcohol abuse are a major cause of, what has become, a major public health problem that is further complicating the economic and social advancement of a country whose economy is already on a melt done mode.   The figures are dismal.  In the Banjul – Kombo St’ Mary’s area ( or Greater Banjul ) 6 – 8 persons of every 100 persons are classified as alcoholics.  5 – 10% of all Kombo Central residents are habitual users of illicit drugs – a figure that is likely to be under-reported. 

The prevalence of illicit drug use, especially cocaine has accelerated under the regime of Yaya Jammeh. To illustrate the point, a recent visitor to The Gambia who has lived in the United States for a decade and a half, returned to admit that he has never seen cocaine in his life until his last visit to his home country.  

A two-ton, $ 1 billion street value cocaine haul in The Gambia in 2005 was the proof that the regime of Yaya Jammeh is very much involved in the South American drug trade that uses The Gambia as a transit point.  Jammeh has admitted of a $ 3 million per month in exchange for his regime to turn a blind eye for the South American drug barons to use the Bonto facility. 

Drug and alcohol abuse contribution to the mental illness problems of the country is further aggravated by a deteriorating economic environment resulting from bad economic policies of a regime that has displayed breathtaking level of incompetence and high-level corruption which has pushed the level of poverty to unacceptable levels.  

The stress levels are high, especially during the periods of the Muslim Feast of Eid ul-Adha (known as "Tabaski" locally) when the prices of ram for sacrificial purposes are beyond the reach of many Gambians.   

Unfortunately, the regime has also fallen short on the treatment of the mentally ill, and thus the gap is widening with a shortage of treatment facilities.  The old treatment center at Campama in Banjul was transformed into a prison - when the Tanka Tanka facility was built - instead of it being renovated to increase capacity, given what has become a national endemic affecting not only families but the economy as well.  The failure of the policies of the regime is at the center of the mental health crisis which has taken on a degree of urgency that must be addressed if Gambia is not to lose an entire generation of Gambians. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Public Order Act: Is it going to be Adama Barrow and Mai Fatty's way or Ousainou Darboe's way?

Interior Minister Mai Ahmad Fatty and President Adama Barrow 
On the 20th of April, 2016, Ousainou Darboe, leader of the opposition United Democratic Party, was arraigned in Banjul High Court on six counts of criminal charges.  Arraigned also were eighteen members of his party executive and supporters. 

Darboe and co were not only the victims of a vicious dictator who had ruled the Gambia with an iron fist for decades, but they were prey to a vestige of a 1955 colonial era law that requires persons to obtain a permit from the Commissioner now Inspector General of Police to hold a public procession.  They were charged with unlawful assembly because they lacked the permit to  publicly.assemble.

Mr. Darboe and his colleagues were found guilty and sentenced to three-year prison terms but they were freed on bail on December 5, 2016, three days after his United Democratic Party led by Adama Barrow defeated Yaya Jammeh in the December 1st  presidential elections.  All of them were subsequently pardoned by the new Gambian leader but Darboe decided, nonetheless to challenge the constitutionality of the Public Order Act that was used by the ex-dictator to imprison him and his colleagues.
Ousainou Darboe, UDP Leader 
Fast forward to this week when a little-known group called "Occupy Westfield" group, led by Mr. Alieu Bah applied for a permit to protest against the local electricity company (NAWEC) to the persistent lack of reliable electricity supply caused by management and structural inefficiencies, aging plants and equipment and marred by corruption. 

The permit to publicly assemble to protest the intermittent supply of electricity was denied, according to a police spokesperson, for security reasons.  Another reason cited was that on the proposed protest date coincided with a football match which could pose security challenges to the police.

The denial of a permit to lawfully protest by relying on the same Public Order Act that Ousainou Darboe, the current Foreign Minister in the Coalition government of Adama Barrow, is challenging its constitutionality in the Supreme Court of The Gambia poses an awkwardly delicate situation for a coalition that is still struggling to find its footing. 

The Interior Minister, Mai Ahmad Fatty, the principal adviser to the President Barrow and presumably must be in agreement with, if not the originator, of the decision by the Inspector General of Police to deny "Occupy Westfield" the permit to stage the protest.

Now that the permit has been denied Occupy Westfield, using the same law that Jammeh used to incarcerate Ousainou Darboe and his entire executive, Barrow will either have to reverse Mai Ahmad Fatty and the Inspector General of Police or President Barrow instructs Ousainou Darboe to withdraw his appeal to the Supreme Court and embrace the law that sent the leader of the United Democratic Party and most his executive members to Mile II.

We subscribe to the view shared by many that the Barrow government has missed an opportunity of using the protest to address the vexing electricity problem one more time with the "Occupy Westfield" group, most of whom, very likely, voted for the Coalition.  These young men and women must not be seen as enemies of the state or the government but as concerned citizen with equal claim to what Gambia has on offer.

We cannot help but, at this juncture, quote American Ambassador C. Patricia Alsup who, in addressing National Assembly Members, stated that "as elected leaders, to their constituencies are to provide strong oversight of the executive branch,  ensure that government is transparent and accountable to the people, establish a budget that reflects the need of the people, repeal unjust laws and pass laws that protect basic human rights and ensure no one is left behind." 

The Coalition Government of President Adama Barrow and the National Assembly Members will be doing the Gambian people a great disservice if their individual interests take precedents over the basic needs and aspirations of the citizenry.   The voices of the Gambian people must be heard.  Ignore them at your peril.