For the first time since the sacking of Interior minister Mai Ahmad Fatty which generated huge debate among Gambians, a senior government official has spoken on the matter.
Speaking at a town hall meeting in Washington, Foreign Minister Ousainou Darboe and leader of the United Democratic Party, said the bribery allegation made against Fatty is unfounded, saying it is defamatory not only to Mr Fatty’s reputation but that of the new government itself.
Darboe also told the meeting that it is surprising how Gambians concocted that story and even gave it credence.
“The Barrow administration operates in a very transparent manner and when it comes to investments, we have almost four institutions that examine investments, including GIEPA and the Ministry of Trade. I do not think one can penetrate all these institutions for bribery and corruption,” Mr. Darboe was quoted saying.
Darboe however stopped short of giving the reasons that may have led to the sacking of the much-admired Interior Minister. However his statements will greatly help Mr Fatty’s stance that he never took any bribe or engaged in corrupt practices.
Kairo news apologises
Meanwhile Kairo news, the online Gambian affairs website which published the allegations that Mai Fatty received a bribe from Semlex, has come out with an apology to Mr Fatty over the matter.
The online news portal on 12 November 2017 published an article under the headline “Why President Barrow Removes Mai,” that made allegations of corruption against the former Minister of the Interior.
The article said Mr Fatty was removed from office because he received a bribe of 15 million dollars from a Belgian company Semlex that specializes in the production of biometric identification documents.
The article caused a storm on social media and threw into question the former minister’s personal integrity and reputation.
But now the editorial board of the US-registered portal in an apology issued over the weekend, said: “For the first time in its close to four years of existence, Kairo News has become a punching bag left and right for publishing a story whose authenticity has been questioned.”
The portal said on its website: “Now that both Mai and Semlex have denied the insider’s allegations, Kairo News will not shy away from writing its first ever rejoinder. And in line with journalistic tradition, editors and publishers swallow their pride and correct a story and where necessary, say sorry.”
It added: “In that regard, Kairo News apologises to Hon. Mai Ahmad Fatty for any inconveniences the article might have caused to him, friends and family members.”
Meanwhile it’s unclear if Mr Fatty had accepted Kairo News’s apology but a close friend of the former minister admitted yesterday that the article was deeply distressing to Mr Fatty.
Another friend of Mr Fatty commented: “Kairo News is an online portal of UDP persuasion, managed by prominent UDP diaspora activists. The article was crafted to bring Mai into disrepute. It’s wicked. And with this they have earned my clearest disdain.”
A senior member of the United Democratic Party said yesterday a number of supporters of the party were quite embarrassed by the action of the pro-UDP propaganda paper.