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‘Benefits outweigh critical appraisals of LG Commission’

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In his rebuttal of criticisms that the Local Government Commission of Inquiry is a “witch hunt”, the communication officer of the commission Mamsait Ceesay has explained that the benefits of the commission outweigh the critical appraisals it received from some quarters.

He said the commission’s mandate is to investigate, educate and inform Gambians about the function of the councils. “The commission, has a high degree of independence and autonomy and is limited by the requirements that it restrict its activity to the investigation that it is authorised to make by the directive,” he said.

Mr Ceesay explains that the LG Commission, like all other public inquiries are a regular part of the political landscape in The Gambia, constituting what has been described by legal luminaries as ‘a significant and useful part’ of our democratic traditions.

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He listed four particular commissions of inquiry that were subject to judicial and legislative review in The Gambia as examples: “the Janneh Commission” concerned an inquiry into the financial activities of public bodies, enterprises and offices as regards their dealings with former President Yaha Jammeh; “the TRRC” was set up to investigate and establish an impartial historical record of the nature, causes and extent of violations and abuses of human rights committed during the period 22nd July 1994 to January 2017; the CRC was to draft and guide the process of promulgating a new constitution for The Gambia and the Faraba Banta Commission of Inquiry which led the investigation into the tragic events that took place in Faraba Banta on the 18th June 2018 leading to the deaths of 3 civilians, injuries to civilians and Police Intervention Unit (PIU) personnel and large-scale destruction of properties and provide recommendations in order to avoid future recurrence of such events.

On criticisms from opponents that the LG Commission is unfair to the opposition, for costing too much and for taking too long to commence, the Communication Officer addressed these concerns and concluded that “they are outweighed by the benefits of the commission”.

The time factor, he said, is explained by the necessity to create the commission from nothing more than the directive which appoints it. “The commissioners, armed only with this document, had to engage personnel, locate premises, purchase or rent office furniture and equipment, and generally see to the formation of an administrative structure where nothing existed previously.

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“The anticipated recommendations arising from the Local Government Commission, coming from an independent and impartial source, will not only assist The Gambia government in taking remedial action but will tend to restore public confidence in our local government councils,” said Mam Sait Ceesay.

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