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Financing development in Africa

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By Francis Aubee (Jeggan)

For growth and development in Africa, it has always been viewed through a top-down paradigm which makes it cumbersome to proffer solutions. One of the first mistakes in solving development issues is the failure to properly diagnose the problems plaguing societies. Colonialism, political instability, poor infrastructure, corruption, dictators, bad governance and many more are often listed as reasons for the lack of development, and rightly so in many regards. However, in contemporary times, viable and local solutions are needed to solve local problems rather than umbrella policies and panaceas that do not always work as desired. Therefore, as an African leader, these are some of the ways in which development and transformation could be financed, bearing in mind geographic, social, economic and political differences. The focus here is simply to propose methods to finance development.

First, taxation. Taxation is a very important revenue generation tool for any country. In most African countries taxation is not often implemented effectively; few people pay, most evade paying taxes, and tax collectors are not often transparent and accountable. In terms of a taxation system, it is recommendable to adopt a flat tax rate system in which everyone pays the same percentage, therefore, it generates enough revenue for the government to provide social services and undertake projects that will aid development. While a flat tax rate might seem harsh on the poor, it gives the incentive to work and earn more, and if taxpayers money is used effectively, the poor will not be stripped off their human dignity. Big corporations and industries should be taxed an extra 2–4% as part of their contributions to the development of their home/host country. If taxes are not increased, then the existing tax rate(s) must be strictly enforced to prevent tax evasion. It is imperative to have a proper enforcer of taxation in order to account for government revenue.

Second, reduce the size of government and cut costs. Governments have become too expensive to run with very little to show for it. In a bid to bolster national development, duplicated offices, agencies, ghost workers, miscellaneous and unnecessary travel expenses should be cut off. A huge amount of money can be saved and redirected towards economic development and infrastructure by reducing the size of government. The executive and its bureaucratic nature leaves a lot of people deriding government and its efficiency. To propagate growth and development, a sense of urgency must be injected into the bureaucracy. Furthermore, an efficient government produces results and saves costs incredibly. Fiscal austerity measures are necessary to finance development and create transformation.

Third, foreign investment not foreign aid. Creating a suitable environment for investors to come in and invest in different sectors and industries within the economy is good for development. Foreign investment in the form of manufacturing companies, technological hubs, assembly plants helps to create employment, increases tax revenue and improves the general outlook of transformation from agrarian societies to industrial and tech driven ones. Foreign investments are often long-run initiatives that need the right ingredients in order to bolster transformation and change the course of development.

Fourth, privatization and commercialization. A government cannot fully execute its programs if it does not privatize and commercialize some of its services and agencies. While controversial and likely to face strong criticism, this is one way to boost efficiency and transform certain sectors of the economy which are slow and/or reversing backwards. Just like taxation, commercialization helps to generate revenue while providing more efficient services to the public.

Also, to create a transformation agenda that can boost development, African countries need to double up their efforts in joining the digital revolution and also become partakers of a digitalized economy. Digital technology must be a key feature in linking rural areas to urban ones, and the role of the internet cannot be overemphasized. However, the cost of making calls and using the internet in some places is too expensive to the point that it has become a luxury. If adequately used, there are endless benefits that local economies can enjoy from partaking in an internet driven digital world with tools readily available to catapult innovation, and transform societies to meet 21st century needs.

In addition, the African Union, and other regional bodies such as the ECOWAS should be structured to lead financing operations for development and transformation through low-interest loans without conditions similar to the Washington consensus. As contributors to the African Union, member nations should be able to call upon the organization for financial help. In addition, there should be a yardstick to measure progress overtime, thus testing the efficiency and impact of various policies.

Financing transformation and development begins at home, therefore, credible financial institutions and instruments must be present. Central Banks are responsible for selling government securities and debt instruments to raise funds. Bonds, treasury notes, treasury bills and other securities are bought and sold based on the ability to repay as stated, this means that the more credible securities are the more likely investors would invest. This is a very standard financial practice across the world, but in Africa not so much.

Development and transformation will not be possible if the private sector is not involved. As an African leader it is imperative to engage the private sector of the economy to invest, hire and expand their capabilities. Government should never be the biggest employer of labor, therefore, the onus is on the government to provide enabling economic environments for the private sector to thrive. This can only be done right by providing a viable, safe and prosperous business and economic climate for investment to take place. How can it be approached? By providing the framework — constant electricity, access to water, good transportation system, security and protection of lives and properties, intellectual property rights, an independent judiciary and a well informed and enlightened citizenry — for investors to emerge and boost economic activities, this can be a cornerstone. Development does not occur in a vacuum, moreover, small and medium enterprises — the backbone of strong economies and huge provider of jobs — cannot operate in unstable, dilapidated infrastructure and economic conditions.

As a leader of a developing nation, it is imperative to diversify the economy and bring marginalized sectors together. By diversifying, it reduces dependency, creates new jobs and platforms for youths to explore and hone their craft. Diversification of the economy also helps to prevent the Dutch disease. There is so much potential in the African youth, and this is something that cannot be ignored as an African leader. The need to invest in human capital is extremely important if the transformation of society is to happen. This will help reduce brain drain, if the right intellectual structure is in place — one that promotes and protects property rights, and rewards creativity rather than stifle it.

To illustrate, take a look at the Gambia. For starters, the Gambia needs to get the very basic essentials — electricity, transportation, water, food security, and the rule of law — to function and function properly. Unless one is being naïve, it is apparent that there are numerous development ideas and frameworks to use, with endless fountain of knowledge from its’ citizens — home and abroad. Thus, it cannot be for the lack of knowledge or the lack of trying. But it takes more than just technocrats and intellectuals to achieve development agendas. The lack of will to implement development frameworks and policies is often where the problem lies. Ignore the elephant/legacy projects, do the basics right and the Gambia will be headed in a positive direction.

The Gambia will benefit from grassroots development that is inclusive of everyone. Many would ask, “why not industrialize like Rwanda and other countries?”
Industrialization will not happen if there is no framework for it. Moreover, it would be ignoring the specific challenges facing the Gambia, while assuming that the Rwanda model is the right fit. Models are models. No two countries can have the exact same development trajectory.

To this end, as an African leader, these are some of the mechanisms that should be adopted to finance development and foster transformation in domestic economies. The implementation of these policies should be over the short, medium and long term. Devoid of any cankerworm (corruption, neo-patrimonialism, etc.), acquiring the desired end results is not rocket science. It is time for Africa and its leaders to make the decisions that matter and act on them. Enough with the clarion calls. You would not let a quack doctor treat you, so why let “experts” who know nothing about your real issues provide solutions?

Francis Aubee is a Gambian, currently pursuing an MSc degree in Emerging Economies and Inclusive Development at Kings College London. Francis graduated in December 2018 with a BA in Economics and a Minor in Political Science from McDaniel College, USA. Francis was inducted into the Omicron Delta Epsilon (Economics Honor Society) and Pi Gamma Mu (Social Sciences Honor Society) in 2018. Francis is a budding freelance writer and an avid football fan.

 

Source: medium.com

3YJ Clash With Police, Burn Tires In Violent Demo

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By Lamin Cham, Omar Bah & Tabora Bojang

A violent demonstration rocked the streets of the Greater Banjul Area with thick smoke billowing from near the Sting Corner to the Independence Stadium junction and parts of the Westfield area yesterday afternoon.

The melee started when the planned demonstration by 3 Years Jotna turned violent.
The police sent tear gas canisters onto the protesters from the Sting Corner end.
According to the police in a statement announcing the cancellation of the permit, the conditions of the permit were violated and protesters turned violent.

But the protesters alleged that the police simply broke up their gathering to deter others from joining them. Pandemonium then ensured as angry protesters accused the police of provoking them with tear gas and as they retreated, they burnt tires and tree trunks on the twinned road from Mile Seven.
A similar riot broke out almost simultaneously around Westfield where protesters burnt tires and threw stones.

At Mile Seven, a protester Modou Jagne said the entire violence was provoked by the police. ”It was completely unnecessary to throw tear gas at a crowd that was gathering for a peaceful demonstration. These images are not good for the Gambia’s news reputation in the world. It is all caused by the police,” he alleged.

Another, Saul Touray said the protest was never going to be violent had the police not used force. He accused the police of still living in the Jammeh era of dictatorship.
“There has been no changes as far as the security’s mindset is concerned in The Gambia,” he said as he inhaled tear gas from rocketing canisters raining on the gardens at Mile Seven.

The Standard also saw officials of the 3YJ and civil society officials trekking the redline between the police and the burning edge of the crowd in a failed bid to calm the situation.
Hagi Suwareh, the PRO of the 3 Years Jotna said the confusion was caused by the different. According to him the police’s stance that the protest start from Y Junction instead of Sting Corner as agreed created the first misunderstanding between them and the protesters who initially thought the protest was going to start from Sting Corner to the Independence Stadium.

“So because most of the protesters thought we were going to start the protest from Sting Corner, they came there but the PIU decided to block the roads coming from Westfield to Sting Corner which created a confrontation and we went there to calm the situation but unfortunately the PIUs started verbal confrontation with the protesters which eventually turned the protests violent,” said Suwareh.

He added that firing of tear gas from the police fuelled the tension with protesters too throwing stones in revenge. The Standard repeatedly called the police PRO for their version but he would not pick calls.

Arrest
As we went to press last night, The Standard learnt that dozens of protesters were arrested, including Abdou Njie, chairman of the 3 Years Jotna. Another official Yankuba Draboe turned himself to the police after it was reported that he was wanted.
The police were not available to confirm any arrests. Meanwhile protesters were also admitted at the Serekunda General Hospital and treated for the effects of tear gas.

Darboe wins and loses at Ecowas court

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By Omar Bah

The leader of the United Democratic Party and nine other top figures of his party who were arrested in 2016 have been awarded $100, 000 each by the Ecowas Court.
However, the Abuja-based Ecowas Court of Justice has ruled that their arrest was lawful and that it didn’t violate articles 5, 6 and 11 of the African charter.

The judge however ordered the Gambian state to pay the sum of $100,000 equally to Ousainu Darboe, Femi Peters [deceased], Lamin Dibba, Lamin Jatta, Fanta Darboe Jawara, Juguna Suso, Nogoi Njie, Fatoumatta Jawara, Fatou Camara and Ebrima Jadama for the violations of their human rights.

Lawyer Darboe and his co-applicants have also asked for an award of damages in the sum of D10 million to each of them as a result of their torture and physical abuse by agents of the State and their arrest and unlawful detention.

The UDP had also asked the court to award compensation in the sum of 30 million Dalasi to the Estate of Ebrima Solo Sandeng (deceased) through the 32nd Applicant (UDP) for unlawful deprivation of life and associated loss of life to the relatives and family members.

4 journalists arrested, 2 radios closed

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By Omar Bah &
Amadou Jadama

The proprietor and manager of Brikama-based Home Digital FM, Pa Modou Bojang and Gibbi Jallow, radio manager at King FM and two of his staff have been arrested by the police yesterday.

The two radio stations were also ordered to cease operations immediately.
According to reports, the officer commanding in Brikama informed Pa Modou that they have received instruction to pick him up and close down transmission.
Bojang was arrested after 2pm and taken to Brusubi police station. Circumstances leading to his arrest and closure of the radio are still unclear.

The Standard saw a video of a huge crowd which gathered around the radio station and at Pa Modou’s residence in Brikama to show solidarity.

Jammeh victims march for justice

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By Omar Bah

Barely a week after the opposition APRC staged a demonstration calling for the immediate return of former President Yahya Jammeh, hundreds of his victims Saturday took to the streets urging government to bring him to justice.

The march, punctuated by a chant of “we want justice,” was triggered by the urgent need to call on the Barrow administration to show a commitment to bringing Jammeh to justice.
The peaceful procession started from Westfield roundabout and ended at Bagadaji junction.
In a petition addressed to President Adama Barrow, and handed over to the government spokesperson Ebrima Sankareh, the Victims Centre reminded the Gambian leader about the magnitude of the crimes committed under Jammeh’s 22-year rule.

“A number of ordinary citizens, members of civil society including journalists as well as government officials, were abducted, arrested, illegally detained and imprisoned,” read the protest petition seen by The Standard.

The three-page petition also highlighted “other human rights violations concerns, including corruption and embezzlement of public funds, land or property expropriation, forced labour and fake HIV treatment that resulted to some deaths and other complications among people living with HIV.”

Speaking at the protest, the Victims’ Center chairperson, Sheriff Kijera said: “As far as we are concerned, we categorise Yahya Jammeh as a terrorist. He has been terrorising Gambians from July 1994 to January 2017.”

“Victims continue to raise concerns that despite the various testimonies by both victims and perpetrators alike, there still exists a section of our society that is in blatant denial of the atrocities committed by the former president to the extent of demanding for his return as an ordinary citizen, which is a mockery and a provocation to victims,” he said.

“It is against this background that the victims community and CSOs are demanding the following; the Gambia government to impose a ban or suspend the APRC party until the ongoing TRRC is concluded; the Gambia government condemn any threat towards the victims and take appropriate legal measures for remedy,” he added.
Other victims of Jammeh such as Omar Amadou Jallow (OJ) and Ousainu Darboe also took part in the protest.

The former PPP leader condemned the way the death row inmates were killed. “They were not executed…but suffocated to death.”
“One of them, Lamin Darboe, committed his crime in 1985. He was sentenced to death and Sir Dawda K. Jawara commuted it into life imprisonment,” he said. “We, as Parliamentarians, abolished the death sentence in 1990. Why should Yahya Jammeh kill Lamin Darboe in 2012?” OJ asked.

The UDP leader Ousainu Darboe condemned the way the APRC has been aiding and abetting Jammeh in all the alleged atrocities and accused the former ruling party of undermining the integrity of the truth commission.
“I think those people should really be arrested,” he said.

President Barrow lauds ECOWAS Parliament

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President Adama Barrow exhorted other ECOWAS institutions to get inspiration from the community Parliament in the drive to reviewing and evaluating the scope and mandate of their operations.

The President was speaking at the opening of the Parliamentary Seminar on the evaluation of the Fourth Legislature of the ECOWAS parliament yesterday, where parliamentarians from the sub-region are meeting to discuss the implementation of the strategic plan and the supplementary act on the enhancement of the powers of the parliament.
While commending the body for the decision to review the Fourth Legislature of the Parliament, President Barrow said it is obligatory to examine the challenges confronting the Community and its institutions.

”It is best practice to review your performance and results to be accountable to the community you represent. This will justify the investments and resource inputs for your activities, thus making this meeting imperative.”

He applauded the ECOWAS Parliament for the strides registered during the last years to mediate and find solutions to the numerous security challenges that exist in the sub-region.
”The Authority of Heads of State of ECOWAS has noted, with deep appreciation, the various missions of ECOWAS Parliamentarians to various hotspots to initiate dialogue between the contending parties there”. He stated

President Barrow expressed delight at the hosting of the very important meeting, saying it is a testimony that the democracy The Gambia has been nurturing is strong enough to earn international recognition.

On the Mawlid Nabi and related matters: Letter to my Sheriff

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By Momodou Sabally

I salute you Sheriff Faadil, my good friend!
But how do I greet you in a fitting manner given the occasion that occasions this epistle?
The celebration of the birth of our noble prophet, Muhammad (Sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam), kicked off a couple of weeks ago, and as you know, the gamo season would continue till the next birthday of the Noble Messenger (Peace be on him). Barely a week ago, one such major gamo was held in your home town, Brikama; so do not consider this epistle late for the season continues about the real man of all seasons, the one who is sent to all for all times. Indeed the elders of the Bulundaa of Brikama will continue this tradition with zest.

In the spirit of this timeless season, then, shall I not breathe some inspiration from the elders of the central mosque of Brikama? Verily, I must borrow the golden voice of the late Imam Karamo Touray of (blessed memory) And sing the solemn song with which they would raise the white flag in what we call ‘joonyi dengo’ at the mosque in commemoration of the birth of our Holy Prophet Muhammad (Sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam). Let me sing with joy “A-salaatu; wa salaamu alaika yaa Rasoolullaah!’
Sheriff, it is surely gratifying that after decades of a coordinated onslaught on the celebration of our beloved Prophet’s birthday, our people are still persistent in this practice for the sheer love of the best of creation. Indeed our Prophet is Arab but I believe that no race loves him more than our African brothers and sisters, south of the Sahara. And is this not proof of the universality of his blessed message, Islam?
It is sad to note that those who keep bashing the culture and practice of celebrating the ‘Mawlid Nabi’ are mostly trained and funded by a moneyed entity that is itself steeped in the celebration of a flawed mortal being and his conquests.

Indeed Islam is a very vast and internally diverse religion and we need to study this tradition with some seriousness and dedication rather than leaving this golden heritage to be hackneyed by the dogmatic rhetoric of a geopolitical entity that is less than 200 years old. We are Muslims and the Holy Kaaba is our center in the Holy city of Mecca but we are not, and shall never be, vassal entities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and her overlords. How is it possible that a religion that is more 1400 years old, can be defined by the dogma of an alloyed system less than 200 years old?
My good friend, let us thrive on inspired scholarship and enlightened tolerance as we try to practice the religion of the most tolerant of all human beings, the one Allah has given the titles “Ra’oofun-Raheem” (tolerant and merciful), Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi was sallam.)Sheriff, with the spirit of the Mawlid, shall I not then share with you some golden nuggets of prayers upon our beloved prophet (Sallaaluahu alaihi was sallam), as complied in the sacred scroll “Dalailul Khairat” by Sheikh al Jazuli; in celebration of this year’s Mawlid Nabi, here’s to the one Almighty God described as “but a mercy to the worlds” [al-Anbiyâ’ (21): 107], and “upon an exalted [standard] of character” [al-Qalam (68): 4] :
O Allah, bless the One for whom a palm trunk wept and sighed at its separation from him.
O Allah, bless the One whose mediation was sought by the birds of the desert.
O Allah, bless the One who held stones in his hand which glorified Allah.
O Allah, bless the One whose intercession was sought by the gazelles and whose request was made in human speech.
O Allah, bless the One to whom a lizard spoke at an open gathering of the most learned Companions.
O Allah, bless the Bearer of glad tidings and the Warner.
O Allah, bless the Brilliant Lamp.
O Allah, bless the One to whom a camel made its complaint.
O Allah, bless the One for whom sparkling water burst forth from his fingertips for his Companions.
Amen!
In parting, Sheikh Fadel, shall I not remind you (and myself) about the one Quranic verse in which Allah (Subhaanahu wa ta’aalaa) gives us instruction to perform an act that He Himself performs? Inshaa Allah, we shall never relent, in our devotions, to act on this:
Surely Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet; O you who believe! call for (Divine) blessings on him and salute him with a (becoming) salutation.(Surah Ahzab, 56).

God bless you my good friend.
Yours faithfully,
Momodou Sabally
The Gambia’s Pen

Presidents Barrow and Sall can’t be smarter than Jawara and Diouf

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By Samsudeen Sarr

In my last article End the siege and stabilize The Gambia – Part 4, I shared my perspective on the evolution of the 2016 political impasse in The Gambia that almost ignited another dumb thirdworld war by actors whose principal protagonists could have explored and exhausted other available options before hastily resorting to that idiotic decision.
Unfortunately, their fanatical inclination to remove the APRC government blinded their sense of judgement to probe a better civil approach than sending a rather disproportionately towering military force assembled by Ecowas and led by Senegal to fight an inexperienced, relatively undersized and still a very young army better trained for peacekeeping than for such senseless hostilities.

These brainless warmongers, cognizant of the inferiority of the GNA against their massive strength, thought they were dealing with suicidal maniacs who out of stupidity would impulsively provide them the liberty to butcher as many Gambians as possible in the same way they did in 1981. Except that this time around they had ensured the participation of Nigerians, Ghanaians and Togolese to make the killing look like a legitimate undertaking by a multinational force instead of being viewed as Senegal’s exclusive aggression. With 90 per cent of the so-called Ecomig force consisting of Senegalese combatants, the bulk of the equipment and weapons provided by Dakar and most important of all, the whole unit commanded and controlled by Senegalese officers, attempting to misrepresent the image of the contingent as a balanced multinational force is an insult to the intelligence of any knowledgeable soldier.

It was without doubt going to be far more expensive in death toll and property destruction-private and public-than seen in 1981.
I will explain those details later. Though the excessive force applied then cannot still be justified in any rules of military engagement.

This time around, they probably would have also used the discredited alibi of ridding The Gambia of MFDC rebels allegedly being trained, sheltered and paid in thousands by The Gambia government. “Charles Taylor’s Liberian mercenaries also hired by the APRC government to fight for Jammeh” were to be exterminated as well.

Of course, every estimation in their operational orders before invading The Gambia in 2017 including the most important objective of destroying all MFDC rebel bases in the country have been proven to originate from false intelligence; yet they still remain in their bunkers, being well paid and well fed while awaiting for the opportune moment to pounce on defenceless Gambians to quench their bloodthirsty instincts.

Contrary to the negative impression advanced by pseudo-intellectuals about the inferior calibre among GNA troops, the average soldier in The Gambia army is far more intelligent than these foreign soldiers brought into the country expecting a provocation that will pitch them against our internationally-acclaimed young peacekeepers and peacebuilders.
A fraction of what France and the European Union is paying these interlopers could have been invested in supporting the GNA to hone their much-admired professional skills. But I don’t think these toubabswill be thrilled about that if we are not going to be directly answerable to President Macky Sall. He is their poster-child in contemporary neo-colonised Africa and seemed to be doing a tremendous job for them in poor Gambia.

Sadly, there are Gambian stooges ready to cheer the invaders in such a crime.
The option of Ecowasassembling independent foreign and domestic judges along with credible observers assigned to settle the non-violent electoral dispute in The Gambia was more responsible, safer and cheaper than the reckless blitzkrieg contemplated as the only recourse.

Thousands of Gambians had to flee to Senegal in fear of the ferocious forces in their superior numbers and sophisticated arsenals racing toward the Gambian border all visibly trended on social media.

Nobody wanted to acknowledge the dangers of war as the mother of all fitnasexemplified by the ongoing debacles in Iraq and Libya all because of flawed judgement of the so-called best minds in Europe and America.

When shall we learn folks?
Thank God there was no war in The Gambia, although the consequence of not having a practical after-victory strategy has translated into a political confusion effectively dividing the country more than uniting it.
All these new political parties emerging because of the permeating uncertainty have to recognise that no matter how perfectly crafted their manifestos are, or how well intended their objectives to rescue the country from the clutter are, they must, in order to succeed, essentially address the Senegalese control of our State House, aided and abetted in their clandestine subterfuges by Gambian collaborators and certainly funded by the European Union.

And let’s get this straight. Comparatively speaking, President Sir Dawda Jawara’s government was not a match in talent, capacity, experience or tact to that of President Adama Barrow’s. So if he couldn’t for eight straight years make it happen with President Abdou Diouf considering everything they had candidly experimented from 1981 to 1989, why try to deceive ourselves into believing that President Barrow can succeed with President Macky Sall out of a relatively insignificant achievement, pretty much hinged on a hidden contract?

Certainly, reviewing one incident after the other, will disclose in both cases the indisputable fact that had Senegal not been there in June 1981, the PPP government would have had no chance of surviving the coup attempt by Kukoi Samba Sanyang; likewise the government of Adama Barrow wouldn’t have prevailed in 2016 without Senegal’s zealous intervention to make him The Gambia’s president.

In both instances, not all but many Gambians had initially celebrated their intrusion especially those certain to personally benefit from the aftermath, principal among whom were of course the presidents on the pinnacle of the hierarchy
Realistically, however, the PPP government’s case in 1981 by deed, sequel and candor far surpassed that of the Coalition’s in 2017. The latter was rather spontaneous, conspiratorial, very much reticent and 100% trouble free; whereas in 1981 Gambians and Senegalese had perceived the looming crisis creeping in slowly, took precautionary measures and when it erupted violently the two governments invoked a long standing bilateral defense pact ratified in the ’60s. Soon after the dust subsided, Jawara and Diouf entered an elaborate and conspicuous agreement to work together for the mutual benefit of both countries, though eight years later things fell apart for reasons which remain a mystery to Senegambian people.

Before the 1981 coup, the PPP government had been in power for over 15 years, winning election after election conducted by commissioners and area council officials, employed or directly answerable to the government.There was no IEC and presidential term limit was never under consideration for inclusion in the constitution. Coupled with a politically ill-informed electorate, that gradually transformed Sir Dawda into an archetypical self-perpetuating ruler, surrounded by shrewd politicians and technocrats overtly rooting for his eternal stay in power and supported by the Western world for his anti-communist sentiments and consistency in his loyalty to Queen Elizabeth II, voting him out of office was akin to a castle in the air connected to a thin string of negligible wishful thinkers.

Some influential members of the Field Force were somehow suspected of harbouring sympathy and being in connivance with the main oppositionNational Convention Party (NCP) whose failure in successive national elections to unseat the PPP government had now started to echo radical views in their political rallies suggesting regime change by any means possible. Many Gambians believed that the Field Force was going to organise a coup against the PPP government at anytime.

Then on October 27th, 1980, to the shock of most Gambians, the Deputy Commander of the Field Force, Eku Mahoney,was shot and killed by a private under his command Mustapha Danso. The commander had just arrived at Fajara Barracks that morning for duties and while walking to his office was attacked by Private Danso who was on sentry duties killing him instantly with a semi-automatic rifle.
Private Danso was arrested and detained although most people had said that the attack was supposed to give the signal for his co-conspirators in the coup to join him in executing the rebellion.

Tensions continued to remain high in the country with more rumours of a coup spreading like wild fire, expected to happen on or before the funeral day of the commander that was arranged to take place in Banjul that weekend.
Senegalese paratroopers helicoptered from Dakar arrived at the Banjul cemetery that afternoon armed to the teeth with automatic and semi-automatic rifles ready for action.
They used to hold joint exercises with the Field Forces those days on the arrangement and supervision of the murdered commander.

Everybody had believed that the sudden Senegalese military presence at the funeral procession deterred the coup plotters from executing the plan that day; it was just postponed according to speculations.

Private Danso was in December 1980 tried at the Serekunda Kanifing Court and sentenced to death but the political crowd in attendance showed their affinity for him, chorally cheering him and scoffing at the trial judge, swearing that the country will explode if the government dared to execute MrDanso. Young Mustapha, while being escorted to the prison van showed no sign of fear or remorse but beamed in smiles and noticeable confidence.
I was there folks! Six months later, hell broke loose.

To be continued.

KMC reveals plans to resolve Tallinding alkaloship row

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By Tabora Bojang

A Kanifing Municipal Council senior administrative official has disclosed that the Council has prepared plans to resolve a raging dispute between the Badjie and the Cham clans over the alkaloship in Tallinding Kunjang.

The two clans are currently locked in a controversy as to who are the legitimate and traditional leaders of the community which is over 100 years old. Both sides are claiming to be natural heirs to the vacant alkaloship post, each citing tradition and history.
The director of administration at the KMC, Dembo SN Sanneh said the KMC will pursue inclusive dialogue between the two to amicably resolve the dispute but stressed that if that too fails, the Council will allow yard owners in the community to determine who should be alkalo.

“We want this process to go peacefully because the alkaloship in this country is based on tradition. We are going to be guided by fairness among the families but we cannot have two alkalolu in one community. So if they fail to come to terms our only course of action is to go back to the community in the traditional way and seek the consent of the people; in this case the yard owners,” the KMC official said.

Sanneh said it would have been better if the clans follow the tradition and solve the matter since they know their history better than the Council, which cannot authenticate all claims.
Meanwhile elders from several clans last Wednesday convened a press conference to denounce what they called plans by the Chams to hijack a long traditional line of succession for the alkaloship of Tallinding.

Momodou Jama Suwareh, a former NEA director who spoke at the meeting, said: “There has never been a dispute over the Alkaloship of Tallinding as it is based on traditional line of inheritance. The KMC is to share the blame for this controversy, they should have set the records straight and indicate who are the original founders of Tallinding.”

Pa Sorri Sanneh, another speaker said the Cham Kunda people should have consulted the elders of their community before rushing into a controversy.
He said after the demise of the former Alkalo, two thirds of the community leaders have pledged to support the leadership of the Badjie clan as a norm.
One Ebrima Colley also said the Badjies and Colleys are the founders of Tallinding; “Who are the Chams to come today and claim for something that has been with us for a century? If they want let us go for an election and see who is more popular to lead Tallinding,” Colley said.

Colley said traditionally it was the eldest male of the Badjie clan who always became Alkalo since colonial days. He named them as Famara Badjie, Samba Badjie, Salifu Badjie and the last Ebou Badjie, who died in December 2019.
“The people of Tallinding have already made their choice until KMC came to create this controversy,” claimed Salifu Dahaba.

The Standard contacted the Cham family for their side of the story and one Yahya Cham made their case: “Cham Kunda family will not allow this rightful position to be stripped away from them in any way, as they are the rightful bearer of the mantle and are in the capacity to serve the community with hard work, honor, and transparency.
“We are the original bearers of Alkaloship but later entrusted it to Famara Badjie, who died and his late son Samba Badjie took over based on the consent and permission of the Cham family.

“Famara Badjie’s father originated from Casamance in Senegal and settled in Kudang before moving to Dembadu and finally Tallinding Manneh Kunda, where he married Arret Manneh, daughter of Ndikey Manneh and Titibaa Cham [Alassan Cham’s daughter] who was one of the reasons the alkaloship was transferred to Famara Badjie after the demise of Alkali Babou Cham, Alassan Cham’s son”.

Drug squad personnel accused of assaulting Bakadaji villagers

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By Momodou Torp

Officers of the Drug Law Enforcement Agency last week allegedly attacked villagers in Niani Bakadaji Toro, a village of ten compounds in the Central River Region and assaulted five people.

Kaddeh Camara, Kadijatou Jallow, Hassan Camara, Adama Camara and Ejatou Camara all residents of the same compound who suffered injuries from the attack were admitted at Kuntaur Health Centre.

Hassan Camara explained that on the evening of the attack they were sitting at home when the drug squad personnel with two pick-ups vehicles parked and gripped one of his brothers, Adama Camara, on the suspicion of possessing cannabis.
“He was searched and nothing was found on him, yet the officers insisted on arresting him and started kicking him and we have no option but to go to his defence. When things started going out of hand, they sprayed us with teargas,” he said.

Hassan claimed that the officers were armed with cutlasses, axes, sticks and teargas. “They threatened to kill us,” he alleged.
Kadijatou Jallow, a pregnant woman who was allegedly hit on her stomach and says she fears losing her baby, said when the officers “started making trouble” in the compound she decided to run towards her room but was dragged by one of the officers who hit her on the stomach.

“I heard the officers saying that the last time that they came to the compound, they were assaulted but that this time around, they were going to teach the family a lesson.
Since the assault, I have been feeling serious pain in my stomach and lower abdomen. I went to Kuntaur Health Centre for medical check-up but the nurse on duty told me they could not touch me because my case should be referred to the police first,” she said.
“I even tried to show the nurse my injuries, but the nurse would not even touch me. I had to stay with the pain until the following day and as we speak, I am fearing whether I would lose my baby,” Mrs Jallow said.

Mustapha Camara, the head of the family, said the attack took him by “complete surprise” and he could not “understand how government officials can enter a village of just ten compounds and start assaulting a family even when nothing illegal was found in their possession”.

The main target of the anti-narcotic agents, Adama Camara, said he has been targeted as a narco for no reason.

“I was once arrested a year ago with regard to cannabis and my family paid a fine of D4,000. I can’t understand why these officers are always jumping on us and maltreating us even if nothing was found in our possession,” he added.
Alhaji Pierre Bah, head of Niani district, called on the government to take action for the assauts.

“It is totally unlawful for the officers to come to our community and do such operations without liaising with myself as the district head,” he said.

The chief said he summoned the officers involved in the attack to a meeting regarding the incident for them to explain their reasons of assaulting the villagers but they did not turn up.

He said when he visited the village a day after the incident, he was told all the members of the family were taken to Kaur Police Station while other villagers went to Jangjanbureh to report the matter to the governor.

“When I met the victims, some of them complained that their eyes were not seeing due to the teargas sprayed on them and that they suffered bodily injuries. One of the women who is pregnant, claimed she was hit on her stomach,” Chief Bah narrated.

He expressed his dissatisfaction over the reported behaviour of the officers saying “government should try and put a stop to this because I have seen serious injuries on the family members which is totally against the law”.
Chief Bah said he will call the police commissioner and the Camara family members to a meeting with the regional governor.

Niani Bakadaji village headsman, Amadou Bah, said they “only wanted peace and stability and development and not violence. We totally condemn what happened in the village. We are asking help from the government to ensure that such violence is not repeated here”.

Reaction
When contacted for reaction, the deputy public relations officer of DLEAG, Dawda Sanyang, said the reported incident was news to him but explained that “such incidents do occur with the drug law enforcement officers at many places”. He said “when suspects refuse arrest”, they “always use necessary measures to get them arrested”.

“If the drug officers suspect you have substances and wanted to arrest you and you insist [on not being arrested”, they can use reasonable force to arrest you and take you to the station and if anybody is found to be obstructing law officers in the execution of their duty, the person can be fined up to D10,000,” Sanyang explained.

Chinese Ambassador and Cuban Ambassador discuss tripartite development cooperation with The Gambia

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Press release

On 21 January 2020, H.E. Ambassador Ma Jianchun called on H.E. Ruben Garcia Abelenda, Cuban Ambassador to The Gambia, and discussed the possibility of carrying out China-Cuba-Gambia tripartite development cooperation.

Ambassador Ma reviewed the China-Cuba friendship, and expressed appreciation for Cuba’s impressive efforts in defending national sovereignty and exploring a development path that suits its own realities. He spoke highly of Cuba’s cooperation with The Gambia, particularly in the area of health. He briefed Ambassador Abalenda on the fruitful China-Gambia health cooperation in the past few years, including the three consecutively Chinese medical teams dispatched to The Gambia, several rounds of medicine and medical equipment donations to Gambian hospitals, and so on. Ambassador Ma said that China was ready to work with Cuba in promoting health cooperation with The Gambia in the future, such as conducting exchanges between doctors from each side, introducing Cuba’s novel medicine curing diabetic foot ulcer to Gambian patients, and so on.

Ambassador Abelenda appreciated China for rendering consistent support to Cuba in various areas since the establishment of diplomatic relations 60 years ago. He spoke highly of China’s independent foreign policy of peace and win-win cooperation with African countries including The Gambia. He briefed Ambassador Ma on Cuba’s assistance to The Gambia especially in promoting development in the area of health, and expressed readiness in coordinating with the Chinese side to deepen such cooperation with The Gambia, so as to benefit the Gambian people.

Letters: Gambia emerged taller among the Muslim countries

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Dear editor,

I was the one to appreciate The Gambia for its bold initiative of filing a petition in ICJ through its Minister of Justice, Mr Abubaccar Tambadou, who presented a very comprehensive and well-investigated report on the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. I was 100 per cent sure of the fact that The Gambia will win this case and the court will provide justice to Rohingya Muslims victims and God heard their prayers as the verdict is out already against the Ms Aung Sang Suu Kyi and her government, wherein, the ICJ has asked the authorities to put an end to the ongoing brutalities and genocide.

The salient features of the verdict are:
1. The ICJ has ordered Myanmar to prevent genocidal violence against its Rohingya Muslim minority and preserve any evidence of past crimes.

2. In a momentous decision, the ICJ also imposed emergency “provisional measures” on the country by instructing the government of Aung San Suu Kyi to respect the requirements of the 1948 Genocide Convention, declaring that there was prima facie evidence of breaches of the convention.

3. The ruling also amounted to outright rejection of the Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi’s defence of her country against accusations of systematic human rights abuses and war crimes.

Now that the ruling has been given, Myanmar’s response will be assessed. It is clear that the voices of poor Rohingya Muslims have been heard by God that even the judge nominated by Myanmar for the hearing voted against the country.

Pertaining to the success that The Gambia achieved for its sincere efforts in favour of Rohingya Muslims, I feel faceless before Kashmir brothers and sisters as Pakistan has failed to even file a case or petition before ICJ and ICC with substantive evidence against Indian generals and Prime Minister Modi. We should have dragged Modi and his associates for trial in the said two international courts on the legal course adopted by Gambia. The brutalities and genocide in Myanmar are similar to that of Indian administered Kashmir.

The clueless and baseless apprehensions of failure on Gambian petition expressed in various meetings have been frustrated after the announcement of the verdict by ICJ in favour of The Gambia as justice has been served to Muslim victims of Myanmar.

Senator Abdul Rehman Malik
Former Minister for the Interior
Karachi, Pakistan

Urging caution and care

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The past seven days had been one heck of a week in The Gambia.

It was marked by a lot of political grandstanding and gamesmanship. The Truth and Reconciliation and Reparations Commission return with more tales of horror culminating in a series of protests, the last being the Three Years Jotna movement’s follow-up protest which was aborted and ended with skirmishes and burning of tyres and flammables and run-ins with officers of the Police Intervention Unit.

But perhaps the two most important developments of the week were the much-awaited Ecowas court ruling that the 2016 arrest of opposition UDP leader, Ousainu Darboe and thirty others by the APRC regime was lawful and did not violate Articles 5, 6 and 11 of the African Charter.

While the court rejected the appeals of Mr Darboe and his co-litigants, it ruled that the torture, inhumane and degrading treatment meted out to him, Femi Peters, Lamin Dibba, Lamin Jatta, Fanta Darboe-Jawara, Nogoi Njie), Fatoumata Jawara, Fatou Camara, Ebrima Jawara and Modou Ngum violated Article 5 of the African Charter and therefore ordered The Gambia Government to US$100,000to them for the hardships and violations of their human rights.

The ruling has significant political implications and might affect the line-up of the challengers in the 2021 presidential election. It might also be the end of the road for Mr Darboe and his cohorts who have, since their release from Mile 2 state central prison after the fall of former president Yahya Jammeh in December 2016, been actively trying to clean the slate of their 2016 conviction record.

The other significant development happened 5,800 kilometres away from Banjul in the North Atlantic city of The Hague in the Netherlands. The International Court of Justice ruled that Myanmar (formerly Burma – where hundreds of Gambian conscripts fought the Japanese and other Axis powers between 1944 to 1945), should prevent all genocidal acts against Rohingya Muslims and take steps to preserve evidence.

Myanmar’s military committed extensive atrocities against the Rohingya, including murder, rape, and arson, that peaked during its late 2017 campaign of ethnic cleansing, forcing more than 740,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh. The ruling is significant because it is The Gambia Government under President Adama Barrow that took Myanmar to the world court.

On November 11th, 2019 Justice minister Abubacarr Tambadou, made an application to the court that Myanmar violated the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and urgently sought provisional measures. As former Pakistani Interior minister and current senator Abdel Rehman Malik wrote in a letter to the editor (see Page 3), The Gambia’s stance has made it emerge taller among the Muslim nations of the world. It was indeed gladdening to see hundreds of Rohingyas in refugee camps in Bangladesh and elsewhere raising placards and chanting ‘Thank you Gambia!’

This is a pat on the back for all Gambians, President Adama Barrow, Minister Tambadou, the government and all the people of The Gambia. Kudos are also in order for former president Yahya Jammeh. In May 2015, he was the first world leader to condemn the destruction of the Rohingya and offered to resettle them in The Gambia as part of a “sacred duty” to alleviate the suffering of fellow Muslims.

“The government of the Gambia notes with grave concern the inhumane condition of the Rohingya people of Myanmar – especially those referred to as ‘boat people’ –currently drifting in the seas off the coast of Malaysia and Indonesia. As human beings, more so fellow Muslims, it is a sacred duty to help alleviate the untold hardships and sufferings fellow human beings are confronted with,” a statement issued by State House noted at the time.

This is edifying. And it should serve as a very instructive lesson to the government in regard to how it maintains the rule of law and observance of human rights here in the country. The Barrow government should not allow it to be hailed outside while cursed inside, otherwise it will lose its moral voice and authority.

The government should realise that it is between a rock and a very hard place and that if it lets its militant political opponents set the agenda for it, it will transmogrify into a hammer and every problem will look like a nail to it. That is why it should be careful how it deals with the Three Years Jotna protest yesterday afternoon.

10 Soldiers Detained, Investigated Over Violent Robbery

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By Lamin Cham

Ten serving members of the Gambia Armed Forces are in custody at the Fajara Barracks and being investigated for possible involvement in armed robbery.
Sources have informed The Standard that a group of armed men recently carried out violent armed robbery against some Nigerians living in a flat in the Kololi-Bijilo area.

Following the robbery, the Nigerians worked with personnel of the Police Anti-Crime Unit leading to the identification and apprehension of some of the armed robbers.
Contacted for confirmation before going to press last night, Gambia Armed Forces spokesman Major Lamin Sanyang said ten of the men apprehended included five from the Navy and “a certain number” from the Army Band.

He said they are being detained at Fajara Barracks and that Chief of Defence Staff Kinteh has given instructions for a panel to investigate the alleged involvement of the soldiers in the armed robbery.

Neither Major Sanyang nor our sources have been able to reveal the identities of the detained soldiers or give details about the robbery.
Mean while,in a separate development, The Standard has been reliably informed that five of the ten armed robbers who were recently arrested after targetting petrol stations in the Greater Banjul Area, were found with AK 47 rifles. It is believed that close circuit television footages from the pumping stations showed that the attackers were ten in number and the police are on a manhunt for the five still at large.

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By Omar Bah

The Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations and the 3 Years Jotna movement are set to stage protests this Saturday and Sunday respectively.

While the victims of former president Yahya Jammeh are set to demonstrate against his return to the country, the 3 Years Jotna activists will seek to intensify their call for President Barrow to respect the Coalition agreement and step down.
According to reports, the victims’ procession tomorrow has received a significant boost as they have raised over D70,000.

Victims of Jammeh’s abuses will take to the streets to call for the former leader’s arrest and prosecution for crimes he allegedly committed.

This protest comes days after opposition APRC staged a protest calling for the return to the country of the former president. The victims’ protest will be in the form of a procession from Serekunda’s Westfield intersection to Tallinding Buffer Zone recreational grounds.
Meanwhile, the 3 Years Jotna follow-up protest will play out from Sting Corner to 200 metres from the Denton Bridge along the Serekunda-Banjul Highway.

The movement’s spokesman, Hagi Suwaneh, told The Standard yesterday that they were yet to receive their permit from the police. Notheless, they were ramping up preparations for their march.

UDP did not recommend for inclusion of secularism in constitution

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By Omar Bah

Almami Taal, the spokesman of the UDP, has said his party has not recommended for the inclusion of secularism in the draft constitution.

“We had a consultative meeting on the issue of the constitution and we agreed that there is no need to introduce a word that doesn’t reflect the reality of the Gambian people or at least the majority of the Gambian people. It would not be correct just grammatically to say that The Gambia is a secular country, it is not,” he told The Standard yesterday.
It was widely speculated that the UDP had suggested for the inclusion of secularism in the party’s position paper sent to the Constitutional Review Commission.

But Taal countered: “It is good that the country is described as a democratic country or comparative democracy, you can choose the words but certainly, we are not advocating for the inclusion of secularism in the constitution. We took note, discussed and concluded that the constitutional provisions that we have in the draft are sufficient to provide all the guarantees that are necessary.”

“In a democracy, it is always what the majority believes and the majority in The Gambia believes in Christianity and Islam. So, to suggest that we should include the word secularism there, I think is not going to add anything. After all, Gambia was even declared an Islamic state once by Yahya Jammeh and it did not change the character of Gambians.
“We believe words like that are not part of the character of Gambians because we live in a very secular way, we have respect for each other’s religion. There has never been an issue because our experience is just that somebody decided to make this country an Islamic republic but it did not become an Islamic republic. He made Friday a public holiday but businesses worked on Fridays,” he added.

Mr Taal, a former judge of the Gambia High Court, said the word secular alone is not even important enough to generate the debate that it has generated. “As such, we just want to accept the draft as it is in that regard. We have made some other suggestions and we hope that they will also be taken onboard,” he said.

‘Islamic Council orchestrated Caliph Hydara’s arrest’

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By Mafugi Ceesay

Abass Hydara, the eldest son of the late sheriff caliph, Muhideen Hydara, yesterday told the TRRC that his father’s arrest his subsequent prosecution were orchestrated by the leadership of the Supreme Islamic Council.
The late Muhideen was the spiritual head of the sharifiya caliphate in Darsilami Sagnajor, in Foni.

Abbas Hydara recalled that on 28thJuly, 2014 the council under the leadership of Momodou Lamin Touray decreed that Muslims observe the end of Ramadan feast which position was sanctioned by then president Yahya Jammeh.
He said the council availed on Jammeh not to allow the eid-ul-fitr prayers to be observed in the country on the following day.

“Acting on this advice, Yahya Jammeh said he was the owner of the country and no one would be allowed to pray the following day. He threatened anyone who observed the prayer the following day would be arrested. My father said the prophet stated that people should pray only if they see the moon.We prayed on the day prohibited by Yahya Jammeh and the Islamic Council. Consequently, our alkalo and my father were arrested by the police,” Abbas Hydara testified.

He said his father’s plan to go on the hajj a few months later to be aborted.
“My father had a large following and his arrest affected many people. We were all let down because the Islamic Council instigated his arrest,” he said.

Detention of father He said his father spent a day at Sibanor Police Station and two days at Yundum Police Station and was moved to the Police Headquarters in Banjul.
He said his father was taken to a meeting at the council’s head office in Kanifing where Imam Abdoulie Fatty allegedly told his late father that he was behind his arrest and not President Jammeh.

“Imam Abdoulie Fatty is a bad person and a hypocrite. They asked my father to accept that he did wrong and he should confess his mistake but he refused to accept any wrongdoing. There was quarrelling because we knew we did nothing wrong,” Abbas Hydara narrated.
He said the council members told them they would be returned to the Yundum Police Station.

“They told us we were going to be released, but we spent the night at the police station. What the Supreme Islamic Council told us did not happen. When the then IGP Yankuba Sonko came to the police station, my father was released on bail the following day with a bond of D100,000,” he said.

He said the trial started on August 12th at the Brikama Magistrates Court and on the first day, his father’s request to sit while taking his plea was refused despite his advanced age.
He said his father was jointly charged with Wuyeh Touray for disobeying the lawful orders of the president by going against the prayer day announced on the national radio. He said the case was handled by three magistrates and it was transferred to the Brikama High Court. The trial ended in May 2015.

“My father was not a criminal. He was arrested and prosecuted for what he believed in as a Muslim. He suffered in the hands of the regime for crimes he never committed,” he said.

World court rules in favour of Gambia against Myanmar

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The International Court of Justice (ICJ) yesterday ordered Myanmar to prevent all genocidal acts against Rohingya Muslims following an application by The Gambia to the world court.
Myanmar’s military committed extensive atrocities against the Rohingya, including murder, rape, and arson, that peaked during its late 2017 campaign of ethnic cleansing, forcing more than 740,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh.

On November 11th, 2019, The Gambia applied to the court stating that Myanmar military’s abuses in Rakhine State against the Rohingya violate the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and urgently sought provisional measures. The ICJ held hearings on The Gambia’s provisional measures request in December.

The ICJ provisional measures order is legally binding on the parties. In November, Myanmar explicitly recognised the ICJ’s authority and in December, Aung San Suu Kyi, representing Myanmar before the ICJ in her capacity as foreign minister, acknowledged the court’s role as a “vital refuge of international justice.”

The court unanimously ordered Myanmar to prevent all acts under article 2 of the Genocide Convention, ensure that its military does not commit genocide, and take effective measures to preserve evidence relating to underlying the genocide case. The court has also ordered Myanmar to report on its implementation of the order in four months, and then every six months afterwards.

A case before the ICJ can take years to reach a resolution.
Under article 41(2) of the ICJ Statute, the court’s provisional measures orders are automatically sent to the UN Security Council. Such an order will increase pressure on the council to take concrete action in Myanmar, including through a binding resolution to address some of the indicators of genocidal intent outlined in the comprehensive 2018 report of the international fact-finding mission.

“The ICJ order brings increased scrutiny of Myanmar’s horrific brutality against the Rohingya and raises the political cost of the UN Security Council’s weak response to the crisis so far. China and Russia should stop blocking the Security Council from taking action to protect the Rohingya.”said Human Rights Watch.

In filing the genocide case, The Gambia has the backing of the 57 members of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation. On December 9th, 2019, the governments of Canada and the Netherlands, both parties to the Genocide Convention, announced that they considered it “their obligation to support The Gambia before the ICJ, as it should concern all of humanity.” On January 9th, 2020, the British government welcomed The Gambia’s case against Myanmar. Other parties to the convention should press Myanmar to comply with the court’s order, Human Rights Watch said. If Myanmar fails to act, The Gambia could raise Myanmar’s non-compliance with the Security Council under article 94 of the UN Charter.

“The growing global support for The Gambia’s case raises the stakes for Myanmar to engage in the ICJ process in a meaningful way and change its approach to the Rohingya,” said Human Rights Watch. “The Myanmar government cannot hide behind its powerful friends or the banner of sovereignty to escape its responsibilities under the Genocide Convention.”

After no support, heart patient dies

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By Alagie Manneh

A young Ebo Town lady who was battling a heart condition has died. Hawa Bah, 21, died at the Serekunda General Hospital Monday morning.
The young woman had “moderate mitral regurgitation associated with severe pulmonary hypertension”.

A medical report from the MRC stated that she needed surgery for a faulty heart valve that is not available in The Gambia. “She will need to travel abroad to receive further treatment,” the report added. But it is now too late for young Hawa.
When The Standard ran a story about her, last week, highlighting her urgent need for immediate support, her sister, Fatoumata Bah, said the family was distraught and desperate.

“Her situation is getting worse by the day. Breathing is not normal, nothing is normal,” she said at the time.
Several people called in to enquire about her predicament with the intention to support her in the days following The Standard’s publication, according to a friend of the family. But she succumbed to her illness.
Her remains were interred Tuesday.
The health care system in The Gambia remains one of the poorest in the world, and it is common to read about people dying from otherwise curable ailments.
According to a report by the medical journal The Lancet, a patient going through surgery in Africa is twice as likely to die following the operation than elsewhere in the world.

ChildFund donates more bicycles to improve grades in schools

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By Olimatou Coker

ChildFund The Gambia has handed at least a thousand bicycles to its partner organisations in the country in a bid to improve grades and retention in Gambian schools.
Tuesday’s donation was the latest after the Fund donated at least a thousand bicycles last year.

The bikes which have reflective jackets with hand bags attached – were distributed to Foni Ding Ding and Ding Ding Yiriwa Federations and to schools in LRRand CRR, respectively.
Musu Kuta Komma-Bah, the fund’s national director, had expressed her dismay at the “countless children in communities” in The Gambia who trek long distances to get to school. She contended that it does not portend well for the pursuit of quality education as it can lead to fatigue, lateness and loss of vital contact hours needed in the academic year.
The ‘Dream Bikes’ as they are called, have already brought about improved grades in schools as children now arrive on time for classes, she added.

She added that the fund remains committed to helping deprived, excluded and vulnerable children have the capacity to improve their lives and the opportunity to become young adults and leaders who bring lasting and positive change in their communities.
Amie Colleh Mbye, an official of the fund, said ChildFund has done a lot to enhance quality education in The Gambia.

Speaking at their office in Kanifing, she said the bikes should not be seen as a luxury for the children but used to enhance their attendance, punctuality and retention in school. She added that the pupils should be taught on h ow to care for them.
Marabatou Badjie,a senior education officer, thanked ChildFund for the gesture, noting: “If you contribute to education, you contribute to the lives of everybody in a country. ChildFund is a household name here.”

A beneficiary who spoke on behalf of her fellow pupils, noted: “Now, we will be able to arrive at school on time and go back home early, and have enough time to rest and play with our friends.”

Financing development in Africa

By Francis Aubee (Jeggan) For growth and development in Africa, it has always been viewed through a top-down paradigm which makes it cumbersome to proffer...