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Scorpions Ask Gambians To Take Covid-19 Prevention Seriously


By Omar Jatta

With the reality of the dangers surrounding the Covid-19 outbreak finally hitting home, it has become everyone’s business to do whatever little they can to curb the spread of this pandemic virus and the Gambia’s senior team members have joined the call through video messages circulating on social media platforms.

The messages were recorded in some of the major languages spoken in the Gambia, including English, Mandinka and Wollof, asking Gambians to follow advice and guidelines given to combat the spread of the pandemic .

The national team captain Pa Modou Jagne of FC Zurich, urged all Gambians to wash their hands with soap and avoid touching their faces especially their mouth and nose, to cover when they sneeze and to avoid large group gatherings.

His deputy, Omar Colley, OJ who was in the past reported to have contracted the virus, which he denied,said they are sending love and encouragement to the Gambian nation, who have now reported its fourth (4th) case this week. The country also recorded one fatality so far, a Bangladeshi man reported to be in his 70s.

“Fellow Gambians, with the Gambia reporting it’s first Covid-19 known as the Coronavirus, we are all sad and heartbroken about the news and we are therefore sending our message of love, faith and encouragement,” said the Sampdoria defender.
His former Scorpion teammate, Mamadou Futty Danso also called on all Gambians to work with the government and listen to their directives.
“As a nation let us work with the government, listen to their advice and directives,” said Mr Danso.

“We pray and urge every individual to stay calm, united and exercise self isolation as much as possible. Stay away from public and stay away from big gatherings.,” he continued
Danso said ”our character, togetherness and resilience have seen us through a lot of challenges in the history of this country and together with the same determination there is no doubt we can stop the spread of this virus in our country.”

Gambian goalkeeper Alagie Modou Jobe, who currently plays in Saudi Arabia for FC Jeddah, urged everyone to follow the basic guidelines given globally to combat the spread of Covid-19.

“Am sure we’ve all heard about the spread of this disease, Coronavirus, which is causing a lot of troubles around the world,” said Jobe.
“The fight against this disease requires us to follow certain guidelines, which are not difficult to follow, and among them is to wash your hands with soap regularly, try and avoid shaking hands and also avoid large gatherings.
“We also try social distancing and cover our mouths when coughing. If we do this, together we can defeat this virus.”

Midfielder Mustafa Carayol also urged people to avoid socialising and stay safe.
“I just want to ask you guys to keep washing your hands and avoid socialising as much as you can. Keep your family safe and stop this virus from spreading.
“I know you are doing great over there.”

The former Ipswich winger also urged those with any signs or symptoms to call the 1025 helpline. “The guys over there are working to provide you with as much information as possible,” he added.

Another Scorpion midfielder Ebrima Sohna, who currently plays for Maltese side Mosta FC, also added his voice to the rallying call in the fight against the spread of this killer virus.
“As players of the Gambia national team, we are ready to support the government and the health authorities to combat this disease and thank you all from the national team players,” said Sohna, who was named in the 35-man squadreleased by Gambian coach Tom Saintfiet for the now postponed African Cup of Nations qualifiers against Gabon.

The US attacks on Huawei are not effective and will, in the long run, prove futile part 5


By Katim S Touray

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who took the mantle from Prime Minister May, also prevaricated on deciding on the Huawei issue. First, he hinted during the 2019 UK General elections campaign, that he might shut out Huawei out of the UK’s infrastructure to appease other Five Eyes partners. Following his emphatic victory at the elections, Prime Minister Johnson got a nod from the UK’s security chiefs to allow Huawei in the UK’s non-core 5G network. On January 28, 2020, the UK government announced that it would restrict high-risk vendors such as Huawei from the core of the UK’s 5G network, and limit them to no more than 35 percent of the equipment 5G market. The UK government thus defied, and dealt a huge blow to the US government, which had earlier on waged a massive campaign, and engaged in arm-twisting to get the UK government to ban Huawei from the UK’s 5G network.

Huawei also faced huge challenges in other European countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic in its efforts to develop markets for its 5G products. Following the arrest of a Huawei employee in Poland on spying charges, Poland was expected to ban the deployment of Huawei’s 5G equipment in the country. However, indications are that Huawei might be able to allay Polish fears about the security risks posed by their 5G equipment if, as it proposes, a cybersecurity center is established in the country. Although Huawei equipment has not been outrightly banned in the Czech Republic, the formal warning issued in December 2018 by the Czech National Cyber and Information Security Agency (NCISA) that Huawei equipment poses a national security threat would make it more difficult for Huawei to provide 5G equipment to the Czechs. Ever on the defensive, Huawei categorically denied the allegations, and demanded that the NCISA provide proof of their allegations.

In contrast to the push back it is experiencing in Europe, the US effort to shut Huawei out of 5G networks around the world is a resounding success in Australia and New Zealand, as well as Japan. The precursor to Australia’s ban on Huawei’s participation in the country’s 5G network came in 2012 when the Australian government excluded Huawei from bidding for contracts to build the AU$38 billion National Broadband Network on cybersecurity grounds.

It is thus not surprising that Australia banned Huawei from its 5G rollout in August 2018, citing security concerns. This decision was based on a literal interpretation of the 2017 National Intelligence Law of China in the context of Australia’s Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2017, and Security of Critical Infrastructure Act 2018 which, in combination, empowers the government of Australia to ban any company operating critical infrastructure from buying equipment or services from suppliers deemed to be a threat to national security.

In November 2018, New Zealand became the third Five Eyes country to ban Huawei from its 5G networks when it rejected, on national security grounds, an application by Spark New Zealand to use Huawei’s 5G equipment. A month later, the Japanese central government issued a ban in December 2018 on the procurement of personal computers, servers and telecommunications equipment by Japan’s government and Self-Defense Forces to prevent systems failures or leakage of information to China. Although the ban did not mention any company by name, it was reported that it was informed by information provided to the Japanese government by the US government regarding the security risks posed by Chinese-made equipment. Accordingly, many concluded that Huawei and ZTE were the prime victims, if not targets, of the ban especially given reports that Japan’s major telecommunications providers would not use Huawei products in their 5G networks.

Can’t crush us
In early 2019, Huawei was in hot soup, and feeling the heat. After all, their CFO and daughter of the company’s founder was languishing in Canada at the request of the US government, and three of the Five Eyes countries (the US, Australia, and New Zealand) and Japan had banned it from their 5G networks. The US government was also on a full-court press against the company, after declaring the company a threat to national security, and slapping it with 23 indictments for fraud and theft of trade secrets. The US government also waged a worldwide war against Huawei, informing its allies and partners that they either had to do its bidding and ban the company from their 5G networks, or lose the privilege of cooperating with the US in sharing intelligence and fighting crime.

In response, the normally reclusive Ren Zhengfei, Huawei’s founder and CEO came out of the woodwork in February 2019 and granted an exclusive interview to the BBC. Ren told the BBC that he was confident that the world would not abandon Huawei because they had advanced technologies, and defiantly added that there is “no way the US can crush [Huawei].”

Huawei acknowledged the existential threat posed to it by US government sanctions, learning from the near-death experience of their compatriot, ZTE, following sanctions by the US between 2017 and 2018. Accordingly, Ren admitted in June 2019 that Huawei sales would drop by $30 billion over the following two years. Mr. Ren also said that Huawei’s smartphone sales had declined 40 percent compared to the month before because of US sanctions, and that the company’s annual sales would be no more than $100 billion for 2020 and 2021.

Nevertheless, Huawei went on to defy the odds toward the end of 2019, with more countries allowing them into their 5G networks, and many companies and countries opposing the ban on Huawei products. Huawei continued developing new products, launched a new software development ecosystem, started weaning itself off US components and — Surprise, surprise! — broke its record in annual sales.

Many countries balked at the US efforts to shut Huawei out of their 5G networks. Although the US reportedly told Germany it would limit the amount of intelligence it shares with German security agencies if Huawei builds Germany’s 5G infrastructure, Germany decided in April 2019 that it would not exclude Huawei from its 5G networks because it had yet to see evidence of the security risk allegedly posed by the company. This position was reiterated in October 2019, although the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Chancellor Angela Merkel ruled in November 2019 that the German parliament would decide on the matter of involving Huawei in building Germany’s 5G network. Despite this, Telefonica Deutschland, one of Germany’s top mobile carriers, chose Huawei and Nokia to build out its 5G network, in anticipation of government approval of the use of Huawei’s equipment in their network.

To be continued

Katim is a soil scientist, entrepreneur, international development consultant, and writer on global issues

Message from the Executive Director of CAFOR


The Coronavirus is bringing the world to a standstill. Although it is happening now in peacetime, it all looks like we are already in a third world war as we witness significant disruptions around the globe. Practically all local and international meetings are under suspense worldwide, and many nations have declared a state of emergency. The World seems to be going through some transformation that may result in the new world order. We already see the tragic human consequences of this pandemic with several hundreds of people dying daily from different corners of the planet.

More than 7,000 people have died in Italy, doubling the numbers who died in China, where this virus is supposed to have originated. It is spreading very rapidly in all continents around the World, with the World Health Organisation declaring it a global pandemic. In Africa, the virus has spread to several countries within a few weeks. Countries across the continent are striving to limit widespread infections: identifying, isolating and treating patients; restricting movement, heightening surveillance and stepping up health precautions. Covid-19 has raised health concerns and the risk of broader restrictions on the movement of people, goods and services. We are also witnessing falls in business and consumer confidence and slowing production.

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), nations should use flexible working to maintain employment. Governments should enforce momentary tax and budgetary measures to bolster the impact in sectors most affected by the downturn. These include travel and tourism, and the automobile and electronic industries. Also, in the most affected countries, adequate liquidity needs to be provided to allow banks to help companies with cash-flow problems while containment measures remain in force. The OECD adds that as the epidemic spreads widely, the G20 economies should lead an internationally coordinated framework for health care support, combined with a coordinated fiscal and monetary stimulus to rebuild confidence.

The G20 leaders held a video conference to discuss the impact of this crisis. They expressed their commitment to restoring confidence, preserving financial stability and reviving growth. At the end of the 90 minutes video conference, the leaders came out with a statement in which they said as follows:” We are injecting over US$5 trillion into the global economy, as part of targeted fiscal policy, economic measures, and guarantee schemes to counteract the social, economic and financial impacts of the pandemic.”

Compared to other continents, the number of cases in Africa is not as high yet. However, the numbers keep rising, and at the time of writing, the Africa Centres for Diseases Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa reported that there were now 43 countries in Africa with 2,746 confirmed cases of Coronavirus. Also, 16 of these countries have so far reported 72 deaths. Africa CDC also disclosed that some 210 people infected with the Covid-19 have recovered across 14 countries. African countries are now imposing a range of prevention and containment measures against the spread of the pandemic. According to the latest data from WHO, the breakdown remains fluid as countries confirm cases as and when. We know that the whole of Africa has rising experiences with a sizeable number of states holding out.

The sale of raw materials still drives many African countries economies. These countries face a threat, due to their weaker exports returns linked to a stronger US dollar since most investors would be seeking a haven for their money, as commodity prices rise when the global economy slows down. Commodity exporters will, therefore, become particularly vulnerable. The OECD warned that the virus presents the most significant danger to the global economy since the 2008 financial crisis. As the virus spreads widely in Africa, no one knows how vital the economic damage caused by this little-researched Coronavirus would be. Sales are falling dramatically, and African exporters fear the consequences of the Covid-19 outbreak. With practically all borders in Africa closing now, there would be a severe curtailment of all movements of goods and peoples with grave ramifications for economies that are already in serious turmoil.

We already have overstretched healthcare systems with limited resources and financing in many African countries. Hospitals access, and especially intensive care units, are almost always inferior when compared to the developed nations. In essence, less than half of Africa’s population has access to modern health facilities, according to some studies.

Some countries also face extra burdens as they battle other endemic diseases such as malaria, cholera, yellow fever, measles, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and Ebola, recent natural catastrophes, or coping with large-scale refugee influxes. Therefore Covid-19 could affect the incidence and treatment of other diseases in some African countries, which may also result in the complete paralysis of their health care systems, and severe economic problems. Massive financial resources would have to be pumped into healthcare rapidly. Also, measures taken to contain the virus’s spread, such as travel restrictions, business closures, quarantines, would very soon severely affect people’s incomes. However, there is a consensus that developing countries and those in Africa must receive whatever assistance is needed to contain the disease.

Over the past two months, there have been considerable unofficial online deliberations, with misinformation across social media networks alleging the virus was a biological weapon, and that millions were already infected. We also heard that African genetics are resistant to this infection. There is also talk that the Gates Foundation predicted this outbreak. Also, the virus does not harm young people but would kill older adults. These have all been entirely false. Similar rumours have impeded Ebola responses, and misleading information and conspiracy theories have become a global health challenge.
When we share information about the Coronavirus, we must be very mindful of the kind of statistics we are transmitting. Africa: Guide – How to Vet Information During a Pandemic encourages us to take the following steps:
1. Pause, and then ask: Does this content make me scared or angry? Think about why anyone might want to create and share such information.
2. Find out who created the information. Be very careful if there is no source.
3. Compare the information you want to share against information from trusted and official sources.

In 2014, two people died during the Ebola outbreak after falling victim to a “cruel hoax”. They reportedly drank too much salt water after a viral message falsely claimed it could prevent or cure the disease. Almost six years later, it’s easy to see why we should be extra careful when sharing information during the global outbreak of Covid-19. According to WHO, some people have died in the last few days after taking overdoses of chloroquine as rumours were flying around that chloroquine can cure the Covid-19 disease.

Another relevant issue for us here is the role of security forces in responding to an outbreak, such as this kind of health crises. If not appropriately handled security forces can curtail the willingness of civilians to seek help. Therefore, security forces must be deployed judiciously and under the guidance of health providers. The rule of law must be the norm always. They may even be contributing to the further spread of the virus in some cases if they fail in observing the rule of law and due processes.

The Africa CDC has an Emergency Operations Centre. It is obtaining test kits, preparing laboratory facilities, and working with member states to support infection prevention and control and with airlines on traveller screening.

The Coalition on Media and Education for Development Africa Forum (CAFOR) is first and foremost a forum with various organizations, experts and individuals who are committed to ensuring that education systems in Africa are relevant to young Africans with newly acquired skills that correspond with what obtains in the labour market within the African continent.

To be continued

The final draft Constitution: My vote is YES in the referendum!


By Madi Jobarteh

Let me first of all express my heartfelt congratulations to the CRC for producing a robust, positive and forward looking final draft constitution within the timeframe provided to them. In that same regard Pres. Barrow and his Justice Minister deserve commendation for setting up the CRC and allowing them to do their work without any interference. This final draft constitution is indeed an exemplary Gambian success worthy of celebration.

This draft constitution is one of the most explicit, innovative and progressive constitutions in the world for which I will not hesitate to vote YES in the forthcoming referendum. Having upheld and guaranteed the Gambia as a democratic republic, the draft went further to set up series of new accountability institutions, enhanced processes with effective checks and balances and expanded citizen rights on one hand and State obligations on the other hand.

Furthermore, the draft opened most chapters with general principles and standards to define relationships, obligations, terms and functions of institutions, authorities and persons in charge of those institutions. This is quite innovative and necessary so as to inform and guide at the first instance the expectations of citizens about those institutions and the overall goal of those institutions themselves. This will help to remove ambiguities as well as empower citizens to understand what these institutions are for and how to engage them.

Not only has the draft constitution strongly guaranteed our civil and political rights but it went further to also guarantee our social and economic rights. Without social and economic rights then our civil and political rights are meaningless and vice verse. For example, after we enjoy our freedom of expression and the right to vote and to protest if we cannot at the same time make sure we enjoy the right to food, housing and healthcare as well as education or electricity and employment among other social and economic rights then our citizenship has no meaning.

By recognizing our cultural rights, the draft constitution therefore enables us to practice our cultures, religions and beliefs as we deem fit without harming one another. This allows for creativity, peace building and national unity. At the end of the day human beings are cultural beings just as they are political animals. Furthermore, the draft constitution recognizes the equality of men and women as well as the equal citizenship of persons with disabilities where sign language is recognized as part of the languages of the Gambia. The draft indeed provides for an equal and just society.

In terms of the rule of law and good governance systems the draft has indeed set up all the necessary governance institutions to ensure the protection of human rights, guarantee accountable leadership and provide the space for sustainable development. The draft has put in necessary checks and balances to restrain political power and distribute power in such a way that no one authority or person would wield undue power over all others. In fact, no one person can serve as president for more than 10 years! This is indeed the hallmark of a democratic republic where the State is reasonably restrained while sovereign power remains with the people.

With this final draft the Gambia has a formidable, pragmatic and clear mechanism to ensure not only good governance and sustainable development but as part of that, to also limit, if not eradicate abuse of power, corruption and inefficiency in the public sector particularly.

On the issue of secularity, the CRC did extremely well to strike a balance that addresses all of the issues and concerns of both sides of the secularism divide. It has therefore introduced a set of new provisions that indeed should satisfy all citizens that indeed the Gambian State protects all religions and neither favours nor discriminates any. Here are those provisions:

Sections 1 (3) – guarantees equal respect and fair treatment of all faiths Section 5 (4)(d) – recognizes each and every culture and religion as a source of national pride and unity Section 12 – recognizes each and every culture and respect for our ethnic groups and religions as the foundation of our nation and our collective civilization Section 49 – recognizes and guarantees freedom of religion and the right to practice one’s religion privately or publicly without discrimination and interference from either the State or any other person Section 88 (5) (b) – prevents the President from having any power to establish any state religion Section 153 (2) (b) – prevents the National Assembly from establishing any state religion.

These sections are so progressive that everyone will fine space to live in peace and security. They have avoided the contentious word ‘Secular’ yet raised the fences high enough to ensure that no religion or believer will ever be victimized or discriminated on account of one’s faith. Above all they have created strong fences that prevent any authority to declare a state religion.

Yes, not everyone will agree with every provision in a constitution. This point was made very beautifully by both the CRC Chair Justice Jallow and the Justice Minster Tambadou. If I could I will change some provisions. But indeed, by and large this draft is a constitution that is a very good start in building the Gambia we want. It is far better than the current 1997 Constitution and many others around the world!
A constitution though, no matter how well written and lofty its ideals are, only becomes constructive and productive and serves its society well when citizens live the ideals of that constitution. Therefore, so long as Gambians – as citizens and the State – do not consciously, deliberately and purposefully embrace and implement its provisions in full we will not benefit from the great ideals, values, standards and objectives of the constitution. Therefore, this final draft when it becomes the approved constitution will become as good as how far citizens embrace and implement it.

Having said that let me once again express my heartfelt congratulations to the CRC – its Chairman Justice Jallow and all his Commissioners and staff for their incredible work. If there is one thing that makes me proud of the Gambia it is the CRC and the work, they just did. Indeed, they have provided to Gambians a tool and a roadmap which has all the potentials and opportunities to usher this country into a third republic that could transform the country into a highly democratic and developed society within out lifetime.
Therefore, let me begin my ‘YES Campaign’ from this moment to say ‘Let us join to vote YES in the referendum’.

Letters : Covid-19: Strong states/strong technocrats save lives



Dear editor,

For all governments, especially the resource poor third world countries, the basic issue of public policy is to establish a pattern of participatory communication with the citizenry through the mass media that provides adequate freedom of the press, which is by now a nationally stated objective of the press, in which the press has the ability to respond to what its government sees as its national objective. As we are undergoing an unexpected catastrophe in which the government is expected to commit itself to spontaneouspronouncements/reforms/strategies, highlights the difficult problem of balancing the freedom of the press with the responsible responses of the citizenry. These difficulties are clearly evident in our national response to coronavirus disease 19 (Covid-19).

If there is any lesson and/or need Covid-19 has demonstrated, incontrovertibly, I think it is that up to this point in time, people tested and found positive, those under treatment, those in isolation and the rest of the citizenry are in need of a strong – yes, even a temporary authoritarian governance system – for our survival.

We can argue as much as we can over some details – for example, that we have a huge youth population, which makes us less vulnerable to the disease – the data stares us in the face: it is not a license to be indifferent. All we need at this crucial time of our history is discipline, more discipline and respect for authority.

It is nations with strong, authoritarian (not necessarily dictatorial or undemocratic) states – mainly People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation – that have so far beaten back this pandemic. Nearly overwhelmed in February with 77,016 cases, China now has just 3,947. Russia has only 626 cases.

One could even include in that list some Asian nations that have had a long history of authoritarianism: Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and, yes even Japan – which appear to have the pandemic under control within their territories, with cases only by the hundreds, in contrast to some democracies with their tens of thousands.
While we may never again have a dictatorial regime, we surely need a strong democratic leadership for an authoritative implementation of spontaneous pronouncements/directives during this crises period.

In contrast to authoritarian democracies, several nations that have been steeped in the notion of individual choice as the highest human value – that is, extremely liberal democracies – have had their Covid-19 cases, and deaths from it, unbelievably soar in a matter of weeks: the US now (March 31) has 100,000 cases from 79; Spain, 28,570 from two; France, 20,002 from 12; and the United Kingdom, 8,929 from just nine.

The World Health Organisation experts who studied how china beat back Covid-19 had emphasised one particular lesson: the government should act fast and decisively. How can democracies, like us, really do that, burdened with so-called “due processes”, parliamentary requirements and some ignoramuses undermining the honest and round the clock working efforts of our young innovative health leadership?

When Wuhan started to be deluged with cases, The Chinese Central government took over the city government. Can that be done in a democratic system like ours or in the USA, where for instance the New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo, is squabbling with President Donald Trump, blaming him for not delivering the respirators New York needed when the Federal Emergency Management Agency had boasted it had 2,000 in its warehouse? Can you imagine any of our so-called democracies, simply order the appropriate factories to operate 24/7 to produce as much as they can of the necessary protective masks, the personal protective equipment and even the ventilators? We may have to sing paeans to authoritarianism if our Covid-19 situation goes out of control. Ordered by the central government, Chinese factories have produced so much of these items that they have now been giving these out to democracies severely hit by the pandemic.

Strong states Weak states
Covid-19 Active Cases As of:

2/23/2029 22/25/2020
S. Korea 946 4,996
China 77,016 3,947
Japan 132 952
Russia 2 626
Ph 3 572
Singapore 47 469
Taiwan 24 204
USA 35 66,995
Italy 79 57,521
Spain 2 40,501
France 12 20,002
UK 9

One of the key responses to curb the Covid-19 pandemic is to deny individuals many of their rights under a democratic system: to socialise, travel and even work. It is the total denial of those rights by a state that can save the collective that is the nation. After all, how can humans exercise their rights, if they are dead?
Liberals, who mostly belong to the comfortable, never-starved social classes, find it difficult to understand the advantages of authoritarianism because their idea of a nation is where they usually live: in demarcated villages of people of the same thinking.

Nations are far from being people of the same level of thinking. The best analogy for a nation is to imagine it as a group of people travelling through a jungle, where there is danger all around them that could wipe them out. They don’t have the luxury to vote what their response would be if, say, a pride of lions suddenly emerge from the bushes. They can only rely on the orders of their leader, who would have to be a strong man.
Under the leadership of our young, intelligent, hardworking Minister, Allah (SWT) will save this country from the clutches of Covid-19. We have to religiously rely on his orders because he is a strong man.

Suruwa B. Wawa Jaiteh

The state of public emergency

The National Assembly will resume sittings today, Thursday in order to debate some very important issues relating to the COVID-19.

On Friday, 27th March 2020, President Adama Barrow declared a state of public emergency as a way of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following that declaration and the fact that the National Assembly is currently in its First Ordinary Session in 2020, the HouseNational Assembly will reconvene its sittings to discuss a range of issues relating to these trying times.

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice will table a motion seeking the approval of the Assembly to extend the state of public emergency for 90 days.

This is aimed at helping in the fight against the dreaded Coronavirus which has all but overwhelmed humanity as almost all countries are battling the disease. These are extraordinary times which require extraordinary measures.

It is hoped that in addition to the desired extension today, the National Assembly will also seek to find a way or ways to soften the blow resulting from this emergency on the people of the Gambia.

Already, thousands of Gambians have begun to feel the pinch of this tremendous blow as it has all but brought all businesses to a halt.

All sectors of society have been affected by the steps taken by the government to fight against this virus. True, these measures are for the benefit of the people, but they have serious implications for the general public.

As the Gambia is a poor country, with majority of the people living under a dollar a day, a shutdown of the country will immensely affect the lives and livelihoods of its people even if it is partial.

As the fight against Coronavirus requires people to stay at home, it will be prudent for government to come up with a way to support the most vulnerable in society with food or sources of food so that this measure will not cause another problem: starvation.

‘No Reason To Impose 3 Months State Of Emergency’


By Omar Bah

The leader of the Gambia Moral Congress has opposed the government’s plan to extend the state of emergency to three months.
This morning the National Assembly will debate over the extension of the emergence to three months.

“Executive decisions must be predicated on evidence-based policy or law. So far, there is no empirical or quantitative evidence presented by the State, or impact assessment report to justify the emergency extension for up to another three months,” Mai Ahmad Fatty told The Standard yesterday.

Fatty, who was among the first people to call on the Gambian leader to declare a state of emergency, added: “This would be the longest duration imposed by any country in West Africa, exceeding countries like Senegal with over 190 confirmed cases or Ghana with 106 and Ivory Coast with 165 confirmed cases. Ghana and Ivory Coast limited executive measures to major cities.”

The former special adviser to the President said although Senegal has imposed a curfew under their emergency declaration, the lockdown is for 30 days.

“The Gambia has only four confirmed cases, and we jump from a week to three months.”
“The reason why states apply interim measures for shorter duration is to retain the situation under continuous evaluation. Heightened actions are then gradually or exponentially introduced to raise the level of national response depending on ongoing assessment. No such situation exists in The Gambia,” he said.

Fatty said the government must not appear to be groping in the dark on this matter, or proceed on the fact-less basis of disconnected probabilities.
“We must take advantage of knowledge and experience sharing in dealing with The Gambia specifics. Actions, decisions or measures taken in a void without any coherent policy nexus or factual grounding is not recommended,” he added.

He continued: “State House informed us of a cabinet sub-committee that is seeing to this matter. Do they have a policy on the pandemic or is it just a mere discussion forum? What are their findings of the potential national trend and threats to demand such a lengthy extension? Government must tell us what they know that we don’t know about the emerging transmission situation potential in our country.”

This, he said, will enable the citizens acquiesce to sub-letting their sacred entrenched constitutional rights unto the pernicious custody of the State for next three months.

Relief measures
The GMC leader said government should consider relief measures to ease the tough living conditions.
“Prolonging the dire situation of thousands of poor and vulnerable families for three months, without palliative intervention by the State, is unreasonable and unwise. We must effectively tackle COVID-19 without equivocation, and we must do so without inflicting untold human suffering of a national scale on our people,” he added.
Fatty added that the government should seek parliamentary approval for the extension of the state of emergency limiting it to three weeks and not three months as proposed.
This, he added, will further provide the National Assembly sufficient opportunity with verifiable data on government’s enforcement measures and overall conduct relating to the suspended constitutional provisions or any new decrees proclaimed under emergency powers.
Fatty said the government should clearly stipulate which specific provisions of the constitution and other laws are being suspended under emergency powers.
“The principle of certainty requires that this be made public and known to citizens. It’s the law. If the principle of certainty is vitiated, the State cannot punish specific violations particularly entrenched provisions or enforce unknown measures against the public. They too must be proclaimed or may fall within the exceptions of ignorance of the law as a defence,” he noted.
He urged the Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou to review his proposals and perhaps conduct additional consultations, including with lead stakeholders and our development partners. “If he hadn’t done so.”
“If the National Assembly approves the 90 days extension, they should accompany this with a stimulus package to mitigate the severity of human suffering,” he said.

NAM challenges Barrow to donate salary to Covid–19 fight


By Omar Bah

The opposition Gambia Democratic Congress National Assembly Member for Niamina East has challenged President Adama Barrow to give his monthly salary, even once, as a personal contribution to fund the fight against Covid-19.

“I have offered my next two months’ basic salaries to the people of Niamina East. I challenge President Barrow to also offer his salary for the next two months in the fight against Covid-19,” Omar Ceesay told The Standard yesterday.
He said almost all the National Assembly Members have personally contributed in buying sanitary buckets and sanitizers for their constituencies.

“My question is: what has President Barrow done in his own personal capacity to support the fight against Covid-19? He cannot continue to take the back seat as a head of state,” Ceesay said.

He continued: “I believe as the president he should have been the first person to declare his personal support to motivate more people to do the same.”
“If opposition leaders are contributing in their own personal capacity, I see no reason why Barrow should not sacrifice at least one month of his salary,” he said.

Ceesay also urged the Gambian leader to put all his political activities aside for the time being. “This is not the right time for him to be buying vehicles and motorbikes to empower his NPP. He must stop the politics now and focus on the fight against Covid- 19,” he said

200 families to get stay-home food assistance


A quartet of prominent Gambian women, assisted by the Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow Foundation, will this morning roll out a special package to help some 200 families as they stay at home as part of the national efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
The package consists of bags of rice, cooking oil and a D500 cash power voucher to each beneficiary family.

Chilel Sarr, publisher of the glossy Elegance Magazine said the initiative is the brainchild of four women; herself included alongside Nene Faye of Woinet, Fatoumatta Jawara and Aji Fanta Jasseh who in fact started the campaign.

“Knowing full well that the state of emergency entails restriction of movements which can hit the ordinary people hard economically, we started a fundraising campaign to help provide food relief to randomly selected 150 families.

The First Lady’s foundation was very receptive to the idea and handsomely donated D150 bags of rice. With that we decided to use the monies raised to buy cooking oil and use the remaining cash to each of the beneficiary families to buy cash power”, Chilel Sarr explained. She extended gratitude to all those who donated towards the project, notably the First Lady Fatoumata Bah-Barrow.

Gambia’s 2 Covid-19 patients recovered, discharged


By Omar Bah

Health Minister Ahmadou Samateh last night revealed that The Gambia’s first and third cases of Covid-19 have recovered and have been effectively discharged yesterday.
“The first and third Covid-19 cases are declared to have recovered from the decease as confirmed by the two consecutive negative tests and these individuals have been discharged from the hospitals,” Minister Samateh told journalists yesterday.
This means The Gambia has only one active case now, following the death of the second case.

In an attempt to warn Gambians against any complacency, Samateh said: “We want to emphasise that this doesn’t give any room for complacency…We should still be as vigilant as possible. People recovering doesn’t mean that we should take the decease lightly because we know that the mortalities associated with the Covid-19 are increasing worldwide.

He said 65 low risk contacts were identified by the ministry’s tracer teams.
“This brings the contact trace number to 233 and a total of 102 tests,” he added.

Kandeh faults MoBSE’s D35M lessons through media


By Momodou Justice Darboe

The leader of the Gambia Democratic Congress has faulted the D35M reportedly earmarked by the government to impart lessons to students through the media.
Kandeh told The Standard that the purported funds could have been utilised to provide emergency aid to poor Gambians as the country continues to suffer from a partial lockdown imposed by the state due to Covid-19 pandemic.

“The D35M spent on education is good but it could have been better spent on helping Gambians through this emergency,” he pointed out.

According to the GDC leader, the reported D35m investment on learning through radio and television is a misplaced priority. “How many rural Gambian households have electricity or television sets? So is like favoring some and depriving others,” he stated.

Meanwhile, there are deafening calls on the government to provide an emergency support system for the population as Covid-19 crisis bites but the leader of the Gambia Democratic Congress said government’s lack of adequate COVID-19 preparedness can make this a tall order.

President Adama Barrow last week declared a state of public emergency and, as a result thousands of Gambians are told to stay in their homes to keep COVID-19 at bay. But some of the thousands of Gambians who are currently staying at home etch out a living on daily basis and this has led to many appeals from the larger public to the government to help provide a coping mechanism for those citizens who live from hand to mouth.
But according to GDC leader, the Gambia government has poorly prepared for COVID-19 considering the size of the country.

“This is not the time for blame game. This is a time of emergency when all citizens should come together to fight this virus but the government’s early preparedness was poor,” he asserted.

Kandeh lamented that the Gambia government had poorly prepared itself for the Covid-19 outbreak and it could have lessened its effects on daily income earners.
“I was the first to call on President Barrow to cut his Dakar trip short and return home and respond to Covid-19 but unfortunately he didn’t,” he added.

He said the government could have prepared the grounds when it became apparent that Senegal was registering cases.
The GDC leader asserted that he was not convinced that the Gambia government is taking the COVID 19 outbreak as a learning curve.

He however called on Gambians to unite forces to defeat COVID-19 as unity, he adds, is what the current state of affairs calls for.

Gov’t clarifies state of emergency


Press release

Following President Adama Barrow’s Proclamation of a State of Public Emergency on Friday 26th March, 2020 and in accordance with Section 3 of the Emergency Powers Act, 2009, The Gambia Government wishes to clarify areas of public life affected by the Emergency Powers Regulations.

Specifically, and for purposes of clarity and effective compliance, all forms of bars, casinos and gaming parlours, cinemas and video clubs, event halls, gymnasia, stadia, night clubs, public swimming pools, sporting areas, are deemed ‘Non-Essential’ and shall remain closed to the public.

Equally, all public gatherings like ‘Ataya rendezvous’ and street gatherings of more than five (5) people are strictly prohibited.
Restaurants shall remain open for the singular purpose of selling food for takeway services. Restaurant owners or operators shall ensure that a minimum distance of at least two (2) metres between any two persons in the restaurant ordering ‘take away food’ is maintained.
Salons or barber shops shall remain open in so far as they are located outside of markets.

However, a salon or barber shop owner or operator shall ensure that not more than two (2) persons are present within the premises of his or her business at any given time.
Significantly, all non-food outlets in all markets throughout The Gambia and within one hundred metre radius of a market shall be closed to the public for business. Such outlets can only operate some one hundred metres(100M) outside market places throughout the country and are equally obliged to practice social distancing, serving one customer at a time and install hand washing stations for their customers and observe the highest standards of hygiene at all times.

Food vendors and traders of any food products inside the markets shall open for business between the hours of 06.00 AM to 2.00OPM each day to allow for local authorities to cleanse the premises for the following market day. This does not include local ‘chere’, hot food, vegetable and fruit vendors who normally operate in the evenings across various communities. They are however, equally obliged to follow all prescribed hygiene precautions and keep away from inside markets after the close of business.
All food traders on temporary stalls in a market shall maintain a minimum distance of two metres between any two stalls.

Crucially, all traders operating in a market shall have hygiene materials available for use by them and their customers and shall cleanse their places of business with water and disinfectants at the close of daily business.

By extension, the owners of shops located in areas with more than five (5) interlinked shops shall ensure that there is a maximum of two (2) persons in every shop.
For the enforcement of these regulations, the Local Government Authorities in collaboration with State Security Services (The Police, PIU, and Intelligence Services) shall designate their officers as ‘Inspectors’ and enforce the law to the letter.

An Inspector, in clearly identifiable uniform or with official identification documents for plain clothes or undercover assignment, shall have the power, without prior notice and at any time, to close any non-food business in the markets. Inspectors could enter and inspect any business premises in the occupation or under the control or possession of a trader in the market, and do any other duty necessary or expedient for the proper discharge of their functions under these Emergency Regulations.

Accordingly, a person shall not obstruct an Inspector in the exercise of his or her functions.
Commercial public transportation is restricted. In this respect, a commercial public transport driver shall limit the number of passengers to not more than half his vehicle’s capacity. The driver shall cleanse and disinfect his or her vehicle at the beginning and close of business every work day. A driver of a four-seater commercial vehicle shall carry a maximum of three (3) passengers only.

In the same vein, a driver of a vehicle carrying commercial goods shall carry only one passenger in the vehicle cabin. Commercial motorists are cautioned not to inflate or increase fares lest they face severe consequences.
For private vehicles, a driver shall limit the number of passengers to half the usual capacity of the vehicle. A rider of a motor cycle shall not carry any passenger on his or her motorcycle except where that motorcycle is designed to perform ambulatory services which are very common in the provinces.

As it relates to Garages and Car Parks, the Local Government Authorities of every Region shall ensure that public garages, car parks, bus depots and transport offices are cleansed and disinfected at least twice daily. They shall be fitted with hand washing stations in and around the areas. The controllers of public garages or commercial vehicles pick-up areas shall ensure that only the drivers of commercial vehicles and their apprentices are allowed within or around a garage or a pick-up area.

As it relates to marine transportation, all ferries and commercial boat operators shall ensure that they strictly operate from 6a.m to 7p.m daily except under medical emergencies. The ferries should carry only half of the capacity allowed on each trip and provide protective gears to the crew and essential ferry staff while disinfecting their boats after each trip. The waiting area at all ferry terminals must be regularly disinfected and restricted to only the elderly and the differently-abled persons. Terminal operators shall provide hand washing facilities to all passengers before they board the ferries. Passengers should be sensitized on basic personal hygiene and social distancing as per the advice of the Health Ministry.

Members of the public are urged to take these regulations very seriously as they are intended to curb the Covid:19viral pandemic ravaging the world and therefore, carry severe penalties for offenders. A person who contravenes these Regulations commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a very heavy fine.
These regulations shall subsist until the end of the Proclamation of a State of Public Emergency issued on 26th March, 2020.

The Gambia Government wishes to thank the people for their understanding and encourage them to comply with the regulations governing the State of Public Emergency as we mobilise our combined national efforts towards the eventual defeat of COVID-19.

Ebrima G Sankareh
The Gambia Government Spokesperson

Workers’ Union wants fuel prices down, support to home stayers


By Momodou Justice Darboe

The Gambia National Trade Union Congress (GNTUC) has called on the government to reduce fuel prices to compensate for revenue losses as a result of a regulation that requires all vehicles to carry only half of their capacity.

The body also wants the government to assess the impacts of the regulation on service providers and consumers so as to see whether it could be adjusted to ensure efficient service delivery without compromising the Covid-19 social-distancing protocol.
According to the GNTUC, in a statement signed by secretary general Ebrima Garba Cham, many drivers are currently out of work due to the regulation which is negatively impacting on the movement of people and goods.

“Many drivers have parked their vehicles because carrying half of their capacity will only [cause] them losses since fuel prices remain unchanged. On the other hand, some of the drivers are demanding exorbitant amount in transport fares to recover their losses from the reduced load. Now passengers are on the road unable to get transport. This is as a result of the breakdown of the tripartite consultation on impact assessment before the public emergency came into being,” the Union said.

The Union also expressed concern over the loss of revenue that many workers are confronted with and called on government to provide them with a solution.
“Workers should be given financial support for loss of earnings and the less-privileged should be given money, food supplies and equipment to prevent themselves and to cope with the situation. We are also appealing to landlords to waive rent payments whilst this unprecedented situation lasts,” the Union said.

The GNTUC also said it is worried that the loss of earnings and jobs as a result of the state of public emergency declaration will create more vulnerabilities in the country.

Gambia must learn from Covid-19, Dr Ceesay


By Momodou Justice Darboe

Dr Ismaila Ceesay of the Citizens’ Alliance has said that Gambia’s reliance on the goodwill of other countries to fight Covid-19 should serve as a lesson for the country to extricate itself from the vulnerable situation that it currently finds itself.

Dr. Ceesay, who made these remarks in an exclusive interview with The Standard, added: “Every crisis comes with opportunities and I think we should not only focus on the crisis itself but let us fight it until we win. Then, after that we look at what are the opportunities that are there and we cannot afford to miss this opportunity. We cannot leave ourselves in such a vulnerable situation where even face masks, testing kits… everything we need to fight this disease has to come from outside. What are we doing as a country? What type of a country we want to build? Even the milk we drink, we import it. It’s not sustainable. We are going to fight and we are going to win and when the fight ends, let us reflect as a nation on what opportunities has it [Covid-19] brought us. It now makes us to understand ourselves more. It makes us understand that we are very, very vulnerable as a country. What can we do to build a country that is self-reliant?”

“Imagine, if this pandemic took a different turn where it would call for a total lockdown of the global, international system. We shall be doomed because everything we eat comes from outside. Imagine if all the ports are closed, no seas and air transport. What are we going to eat? We’ll suffer. So, I think now going forward we need to start coming up with strategies to remove ourselves from this vulnerable position. But also we need to start thinking to see how, as a country, we cannot continue living the way we are.”
Dr. Ceesay warned that Covid-19 will affect the country’s healthcare system which, he said, has been weak for a long time.

“It’s time to invest in our healthcare system. Future threats to our existence will not come from missiles and atomic bombs from America or Russia or North Korea or maybe aggression from Senegal, but from viruses and diseases like corona caused by either natural or environmental factors,” he postulated.

Dr Ceesay noted that Gambia is blessed with the ripe condition for us to be food self-sufficient and what the country needs is to invest in agriculture to be able to provide the food that we need.

Ex-Marseille President Pape Diouf dies of COVID-19


Former Olympic Marseille FC President (between 2005 and 2009)PapeDiouf is reported to have diedof COVID-19 in a Dakar hospital yesterday, according APS. He was 68. Diouf had been put on a respiratory machine as plans went underway to transport him from hospital in Senegal to France so that he could be put in the best possible healthcare conditions.

Stop politicisation of charitable causes in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic


By Solomon Demba

Since the outbreak of the deadly Covid-19, there appears to be a rise fundraising campaigns with a view to complementing the functions of the state in meeting the social needs of society. Clearly such efforts should be welcome. However, political philanthropism deployed for personal political expedience is unconscionable and defeats the purpose of a charitable cause.

It is uneasy to see deliberate politicisation of charitable causes; the act of political parties distributing the proceeds from charitable causes on the basis of political affiliations is wrong. Such practice is contrary to the concept of public benefit, which may alienate a well-informed electorate and potentially limit our ability to act collectively for public good.
Philanthropy is a private act of bestowing a gift for the benefit of the public; it is an act of kindness / sacrifice which has been valued by many different societies throughout history as an important means of extending a helping hand to those in need.

But when it is pursued as a political project, it may fail to meet the needs of those who cannot buy into the policies of that party. Indeed, such an act can only provide channels for political opportunism, which will allow the political class to selfishly advance their personal political agendas at the expense of the legitimate interests of the masses. It is my view that such charities are not charitable because they are constituted for self-serving purposes.

The fundamental part of a charitable cause is to receive and give charitably without discrimination, without any family, tribal, ethnic, religious, or political considerations. Basically, the public benefit test can only be met if the benefit conferred is both of a public character and can be of some benefit to the public generally. I think if we create charitable cause in the name of a political party, we run the risk of conferring public benefit on political protagonists/ militants rather than being non-discriminatory in the disbursement of the support.

We should recalibrate our efforts such that we seek to allow people to rely upon philanthropic activity that provides for the needs of the disadvantaged without expressively linking such novel activity to our chosen political party. As a society we must value the independent discretionary acts of the individual as a means of addressing social needs rather than focusing on things that divide us, namely politics. That way, we can nurture a pluralistic society where we unite as one people in our fight against the deadly public health disaster such as the coronavirus pandemic. It seems well fitting for the Government to establish a Charity Commission that has legislative powers to regulate the operation of charities in particular proceeds generated for charitable causes. Fairness, openness, and transparency are foundations on which a democratic society operates on.

To that end, I urge all political parties to separate entitlement to charitable proceeds from political affiliations. Such practice is unconscionable; it cannot be legally justified as it falls foul of the principle of public benefit test for a charitable cause.

Guidelines for infection control following death from Covid-19


In general, all indications are that we are not yet near the worst of the Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and deaths caused by the virus may continue to increase in some parts of the world.In many parts of the world, the bodies of Covid-19 victims are building up to be cremated / buried. It is important that we start thinking about how the bodies of patients that died of Covid-19 or are suspected to have died of Covid-19 should be handledto reduce the risk of transmission of this very deadly disease in the community.

For now, there seems to be one report which suggests that the bodies of Covid-19 victims are not contagious – that the virus stops spreading once the host dies. However, that report seems to be irreconcilable with the known resilience of the virus. The virus is known to stick around the dead body and on a variety of surfaces (e.g., hands, clothes, metal / plastic surfaces, phone, computer, etc. – we are learning more about this lethal virus) for a long period of time.

Thus many public health bodies are ofthe view that there is a risk of contracting the virus from a Covid-19 victim. Unfortunately there seems to be no or limited restrictions on handling or washing the bodies (Ghusl) of patients who died from Covid-19. Since Covid-19 is highly contagious and lethal, the washing of the body of Covid-19 victims must be given careful consideration. Under the circumstances, serious consideration must be given to whether the act of dry ritual purification using dust (tayammum) or better still, no ritual purification of any form will do. The focus has to be onthe protection of the living and the less we tamper with the bodies of Covid-19 victims, the greater our chances of controlling the spread this menace in the community and the country.

Depending on beliefs and so on, a variety of rituals are done to the dead body before burial. Therefore, appropriate infection control measures must be adopted for Covid-19 victims to reduce the spread of the virus in the community / country.Funeral workers and those involved in washing/preparing the dead body must wear personal protective equipment (PPE) as per the guidelines issued by recognised public health bodiesin the country.

The National Burial Council (UK) has issued detailed guidance based on the latest information from public health bodies and the Department of Health (UK) on what to do following death from Covid-19. These precautions (reproduced below) should be adapted by communities and other faiths to thelocal conditions in the Gambia with a view to controlling the infection of Covid-19in the community /country. It is particularly important that we listen to and follow the advice of recognised public health bodies on how to handle the bodies of Covid-19 victims.

Precautions on the care of the dead body at the time of death
· [Where possible,the dead body should be classified by the attending physician as category risk.]
· Anyone coming in contact with the dead body must wear protective clothing/PPE such as gloves, water resistant gown / plastic apron over water repellent gown, and surgical mask. It is advisable to use goggles or face shield to protect the eyes, if there is a risk of splashes.

· All tubes, drains, and catheters attached to the dead body should be removed.
· All contacts with members of the family should be kept to a minimum and the bereaved family should wear PPE.

· Overall, there must be minimal contact with the deceased; where possible it should be restricted to individuals under the age of 60 years and in good health.

Precautions on handling the deceased
· The dead body should be first placed in a robust and leak-proof transparent plastic bag of not less than 150µm thick, which should be zippered closed- For those closer to the city of Banjul, this may be sourced from the Ports Authority.

· There will be the need for a second layer of cover. Whenever possible, the bagged body should be either wrapped with a mortuary sheet or placed in an opaque body bag.
· The outside of the body bag should be wiped with 1 in 4 diluted household bleach (– this is done by mixing 1 part of household bleach with 3 parts of water) and allowed to air dry.

To be continued

Letters : Recognising the frailty of life


Dear editor,

Mortality has ever being a Constant since the beginning of life. We see death. We live through death. We lose to death. But somehow, we manage to build a facade, aspire and dream big and go on with with business as usual believing that it’s always going to be someone’s turn. Just not you. As for you, death will knock at your door someday but not for now. Not until you outlive your goals and achieve your aspirations. We are talking about several decades of longevity and strength and prosperity before the old age and its underlying physiological and anatomical deteriorations give you the wake up call. Until then, life, from your vantage point, is viewed from a linear perspective.

But Covid-19 or Corona Virus is a reminder that life is not all linear after all. The infection brings with it deaths, pain, contagion and economic ruins at a rate and speed seldom seeing (if ever) at any time in modern history. Although it affects some group of people more than the others the but fact that it can strike with scourging precision and bring down anyone in every demographic, social and economic status makes Corana virus one hell of a scary experience.

So, as the world continues to spiral into darkness and an unsettling uncertainty in which this particular virus strain make the rules and determines who to afflict or spare or who to die and who to survive, let us pause for a moment to appreciate the gift of life, recognize its frailty and showcase the best examples humanity has to offer. As I have argued before, this is a moment show love, appreciation and support to each other and engage in anything that uplifts and strengthens human spirit, capacity and welfare. Let us be there for each other in our homes, within our families, our communities and at our work places

Zakaria KemoKonteh
Queens, USA

The new constitution!

On Monday 30th of March 2020, the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) submitted its report and the final Draft Constitution to the President, Mr Adama Barrow. Yesterday, the 31st of March, the same was published.

When President Adama Barrow came into office in January 2017, one of the things he announced as his government’s top priorities was reviewing the 1997 Constitution in order to bring it in line with modern democratic constitutions.

On 13th January 2018, the President assented to the Act of the National Assembly which established the commission on 13th December 2017. According to the Act, the role of the Commission was to review the 1997 Constitution and produce a new draft and an explanatory report of the process.

The Commission began its work and consulted widely both Gambians here at home and those abroad. When they published the first draft, a huge interest in it was displayed by members of the public who brought to the fore many issues which concerned them.

One of the most hotly debated issues in that draft was the country’s status of being secular or non-secular. Many citizens aired their views on this issue and a heated debate was generated in the country about it. The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) has now said that all rights have been guaranteed in this draft even though the word secular is not explicitly mentioned.

The new constitution stipulates a two-term limit for the presidency whether those two terms are consecutive or not. This is new as it has never been in the Gambia’s laws. This also makes it a progressive constitution which is in line with modern democratic norms.

The Constitution has many other progressive provisions which are very much in line with modern democratic principles. For instance, there is a provision which stipulates the qualifications of president. Another provision makes it binding for people aspiring to run for such office to declare their assets to the public.

The issue is now when will this dreaded coronavirus dissipate to allow the citizens to go for a referendum to usher in the Third Republic?

Melville Claims Ag Tries To Engineer His Rape Charges


By Momodou Justice Darboe

For the first time since he was reportedly slammed with rape charges last week, former top Foreign Affairs official Melville Roberts has spoken out, accusing Justice Minister Ba Tambadou of trying to engineer the charges against him.

Roberts was last week reportedly charged with rape after several women alleged that he sexually abused them.
He denied any wrong doing.
He was consequently granted bail in the sum of D1M, according to government Spokesperson.

Yesterday, Melville spoke to The Standard from his so far unknown location: “The police report into the allegations had exonerated me and that’s the absolute truth. Find out as journalists and see. So why will the justice ministry go against the report of an investigation that completely exonerated me? Is that how true Muslims behave? I am saddened and that’s why as a nation, we are the way we are”.
According to Melville, he was never even charged, let alone granted bail, despite official sources stating otherwise.

He also said rumours claiming his immunity was revoked are false.
Roberts also commented on his own Facebook page, saying: “A premature press release was sent out by the Minister of Justice instructing the police to open an investigation on social media allegations that were baseless and unsubstantiated.

Usually, it’s for a complainant to go and make a complaint at the police and the police to open an investigation but because its Melville, this was sidelined for reasons I may never know.”

Mr. Roberts further claimed that the six months of investigations that followed the ministry’s alleged instruction was accompanied by social media campaign of character assassination, innuendoes and insinuations of all sorts and on all platforms.
“During this period, I was vilified on every social media platform at their disposal and my image was carried on national newspapers and television stations. The minions further claimed that I had sought asylum in the UK and they had credible evidence to prove that,” he lamented.

He further commented: “They said I got a job by recording and blackmailing the President. They said I was wanted by the NIA and that banks were in search of me for defrauding them. They went further to say that I’d be arrested immediately upon my return. This was what was sold to gullible Gambians to arouse their sympathy. Absolutely blatant lies.”He described Ba’s alleged interference with his case as mysterious and nerve-wrecking.

“The police conducted seven months of rigorous investigations and submitted a report to say that I have been exonerated but one man, in the person of the justice minister, as alleged, is saying I must be charged because he has the power to do that disregarding the findings of a team of investigators,” he concluded.
The Standard tried repeatedly to get AG Tambadou for comments but he could not be reached.

Scorpions Ask Gambians To Take Covid-19 Prevention Seriously

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