By Talibeh Hydara
A cross-section of Gambians has demanded a formal explanation for the removal of Interior Minister Mai Ahmad Fatty.
A terse press release issued by the Office of the President on Friday, reminiscent of the style of former President Jammeh’s era, announced the bombshell news without giving details.
A few hours after his sacking, Fatty thanked Gambians “for their support” while expressing “hope for the future”.
Reactions to the first cabinet sacking just nine months into the Barrow administration, came thick and fast. Gambians took to social media to demand an explanation from the president.
Nanama Keita, a Gambian serving in the US Army and a staunch supporter of the Coalition government, said: “Until I hear a tangible explanation for the removal of Mai Ahmad Fatty – the most competent member of Barrow’s cabinet – I’ve ceased to be a supporter of this regime from today. I ride with competence, and Mai was that competence within that fragile regime,” he said.
Eden Sharp, a regular commentator on Gambian politics, wrote: “Whatever the reason for Mai’s firing, or demotion if you’re so inclined, we deserve to know. We can all agree that it had to be something serious for Mai to be fired from such a sensitive post. If it is a mere political decision, Mai owes it to the electorate to tell us what happened. If he did something wrong, he should face the law and not just demoted or fired. All Gambians, irrespective of position, should be equal under the law. It’s great that the president told us he relieved Mai of his position, but he owes the Gambians more than that. We shouldn’t be left in the dark wondering why Mai Fatty, a political party leader and a member of the Coalition government, was relieved of his position. We shouldn’t be left wondering, speculating and guessing! Mai’s political career is on the line and Barrow’s call for transparency is on the line. Gambians are watching and listening! I hope we get to know more.”
Mustapha Darboe, a journalist, stated: “Unless the Barrow administration explains this, I think they just [….] themselves. I personally consider Mai as someone who is passionate about his job and … a competent individual.”
Lamin Touray, who claims he never supported any other party but UDP, said Barrow should never do anything reminiscent of Jammeh. According to him, Jammeh never gave any reasons for sacking cabinet ministers and Barrow shouldn’t follow suit in that regard.
“He has to explain. He must explain why he removed Mai. This is the only minister I am happy with. He was doing very well to reform the security sector that was polluted with elements of Jammeh,” he said.
Alagie Kanyi added: “I personally don’t like Mai but I believe he was doing great work. Gambians deserve a reasonable explanation for his dismissal.”
Buba Bojang, who urged Mai to turn down the Foreign Service redeployment, said: “I am no more supporting the Coalition government. Mai was the most effective in the cabinet. How can Barrow sack him without [publicly giving] a reason? Barrow must tell us why.”
Meanwhile the director of press at State House, Amie Bojang-Sissoho, said president “owes no explanation” to the media over Mai Fatty’s sacking.
“He [Barrow] would have his explanation but he doesn’t owe it to the media. Those are cabinet issues, I don’t think he can discuss them with the media,” she told the BBC World Service’s Esau Williams on Saturday.
Mai Fatty is the leader of the Gambia Moral Congress, GMC, party. His party did not win a single seat in the last legislative election. But a professed UDP supporter told The Standard yesterday: “I support Mai Fatty for his pragmatism and uncompromising attitude towards eradicating all legacies of former dictator Jammeh. Even us, the UDP supporters, mourn his sacking. It was only through him that you can feel the changes. He was fiercely opposed to anything Jammeh and for that people love him.”
With State House still mute over the reasons for his sacking, speculations are rife. Some say Fatty was grooming himself to become more important than his superiors in the Coalition or must have done something that compromises his position and makes his presence in the cabinet untenable.