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DR CEESAY SPEAKS ON CONNECTIONS WITH TALIB BENSOUDA

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Denies hunting for cabinet job from Barrow

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By Omar Bah

The leader of the Citizens’ Alliance Dr Ismaila Ceesay has said he never endorsed KM mayor Talib Bensouda or serve as his adviser. Ceesay was among prominent Gambians including former mayors that Mayor Bensouda once publicly consulted for advise.

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With his party now part of the governing NPP grand coalition and campaigning for the NPP’s Bakary Badjie, critics have accused Dr Ceesay of inconsistency and asked for clarifications.

Reacting to these allegations in a Star FM Wake UP Gambia Show to be aired today, Dr Ceesay said he never endorsed or served as adviser to Mayor Talib Bensouda. “What happened is that he called me at his office and offered me to serve as his adviser and I welcomed the idea but then I said to him I will do it for free. He then asked me to write to show that I accepted the position. But when I returned the following day, someone called me and said the UDP is not happy with Talib’s gesture to make me adviser because I never supported them and was also working on forming a party”.

Dr Ceesay said a few days later, he called Talib to follow-up on their conversation but Talib allegedly instructed him to go through his protocols.

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“I said fine. So, since then he didn’t call me back and I also didn’t call him. That was what happened,” he said.

Turning to this month’s mayoral elections, Dr Ceesay said Talib has done nothing in KM that should make the electorate re-elect him except the Mballit’ project and it would be ridiculous if the people of KM gave him a second mandate only because of that project. “If Talib will only campaign based on his ‘Mballit’ project then he has failed because that is the easiest thing to do.  If he is supported only because of that, then that says a lot about us as Gambians. It is just like saying the Banjul Project was good enough for President Barrow to be re-elected,” he said.

Dr Ceesay said the idea that KMC is yellow is ‘ironical’ because research has shown that the majority of the Gambian electorate are undecided and non-partisan.

CA

Reacting to suggestions that the CA is now dead, Dr Ceesay argued: “When we were forming the CA, we were clear that we cannot vote ourselves into office and that whosoever wins we will support that person to accomplish his or her development aspirations. This is why we decided to support President Barrow because we don’t want to keep our ideas to ourselves. These kind of things happen in the UK and everywhere so it has nothing to do with whether the party is dead or not. We are strategising and surely, we will comeback even better and stronger.”

Positions

On claims that he is looking for position, Dr Ceesay said he did not join the NPP coalition to be appointed a minister or whatsoever. “To start with I am a lecturer at the University of The Gambia and I also wake up every day to go to work and I have a lot of consultancy work with international organisations. So, those who are saying that should know that I am not desperate for positions. If CA wanted positions, we would have endorsed the president before the election,” he said.

Commenting on claims that he and other coalition partners have been neglected by the president, Dr Ceesay added: “I am meeting the president from time to time to discuss national issues. Now, instead of us coming out publicly to discuss our discontentment about the government’s policy, we reach out to him directly to tell him what we have in mind.  During our discussions, I came to realise that the country means a lot to him and he listens to those who advise him on the way forward. He is very concerned about all the pertaining issues Gambians are complaining about and trying to find solutions to address them.”

Dr Ceesay admitted that the country is facing a lot of challenges due to the covid-19 and the Ukraine-Russia war.

“This is why it is important that we come together as a country and help the government to address these issues. But truth be told the government should look at the issues of the economy and as well try to address the suffering of the people. They are trying but I think they can still do more to reduce the suffering of the people,” he said. He said the challenges, the ordinary Gambian is facing are the same challenges the president, ministers and other government officials are facing.

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