By Alagie Manneh
The Office of the President gave instructions for the termination of the contract of services of Malik Jones, the deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Information.
Mr Jones’ contract was terminated on August 2, according to a government document shown to The Standard, yesterday.
Confirming the termination at the first edition of what is expected to be a monthly press briefing at the Ministry of Information, Minister Demba Ali Jawo in response to a question, said: “Yes, Malik Jones was on contract with this ministry. And recently his contract was terminated but the termination came from the Office of the President.”
Pressed to shed light on why the veteran journalist was suddenly given a marching order, the Minister said he had no clue.
“As to why his contract was terminated, I don’t know,” he said. “I am not in a position to answer. I need to find out why.”
However, he was quick to reveal terms of the contract, which he said dictated that either party [Mr Jones or the government] could end the contract at any time and walk away.
“The contract term was that either he [Malik Jones] himself could terminate it by giving notice or the President could terminate it as well. And that is exactly what has happened.
“I am not sure anything went wrong,” he added in response to a question. “They are not required to give reason as to why they terminated his contract.”
But Minister Jawo was keen to stress that he did enjoy working with Mr Jones, who spent many years working at his ministry after serving a score of years at the national broadcaster in various capacities.
Mr Jones became a figure of derision for some Gambians for his ardent public show of support to former president Jammeh in the political impasse that engulfed the country following the December election.
Minister Jawo also talked about the issue surrounding the appointment of the Vice President. He said: “As regards the appointment of the Vice President, that is the prerogative of the president. He alone has the prerogative to appoint anybody Vice President. I can assure you the process is on and very soon probably we will get an announcement as to who the Veep is. The president is very much thinking about it.”
He also discussed the eagerly-anticipated formulation of a bill to introduce term-limit which was a campaign promise by the Barrow-led Coalition, telling journalists it remains “central” in their policies and plans.
He also discussed the possibility of a general constitutional review, hinting that it is better than “just having these piecemeal amendments of laws.”
“I think that will address all our various concerns and it is an objective at the Ministry of Justice.”
Concerning African Petroleum, who are threatening to drag the government to court over exploration rights following the cancellation of meetings to have them extended, the veteran journalist said: “Actually what happened with African Petroleum is that they had a licence, and the licence has expired. And the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum has decided not to renew the licence. That is the situation. As long as they have no licence, I cannot imagine them operating in this country. No licence, no operations. That’s it.”
Meanwhile, the minister disclosed ongoing works in the tourism sector. “The government is working on plans; renovating hotels as well as putting some policies in place. In the past, governments used to issue travel advices to their people, telling them not to come to The Gambia. But now in this new Gambia, I see no reason why anybody will issue travel advice. So we are expecting the next tourist season to be fully full.”
Officials said the press briefing, which took place yesterday, was designed to give a general overview of activities within and outside the government including developments taking place over the period.