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Thursday, March 4, 2021

Hamat says gov’t will pay price for restricting UN experts

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At a press conference held at his party headquarters yesterday, he said: “I would like to talk about the report presented by the two experts. They came here at the invitation of the government for which they must be commended for committing to making sure that information needed was made available to these people so that they can go back and write a comprehensive report with a view to try to improve the image of the country outside. The image of the country is immensely battered when it comes to human rights. Whether we like it or not that is the fact. We thought that was a good idea and a new opening for the Gambia Government to the international community and all other human rights agencies. But unfortunately, when these investigators were wrapping up, they gave us some disturbing news that they were obstructed and prevented from doing their job as they had wanted to. They wanted access to the security wing at Mile 2 but unfortunately were not allowed there. They were not allowed access to the detainees and meet those on death row. 

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“I think that was a very serious misjudgment. Whoever might have given that instruction didn’t know the repercussion that can bring to the government of The Gambia. It was a serious mistake for them to do that. It was also wrong. You cannot invite somebody and obstruct him from doing the job he was supposed to do. They knew in advance what the investigators wanted to do. I think that is one of the greatest mistakes they have ever made and they will pay the price for it and I can tell you it will not be cheap for them. It is bad for the image of the country and our investment portfolio. It is a sad moment for us. It would have been better to allow them do their investigation, make their report and see how best to address the concerns raised and [work on the] recommendations”.

The NRP leader went on: “This government is failing to read history which is rather unfortunate. In Ghana, when Jerry Rawlings was in power as a military leader, pregnant female judges were killed. A lot of things happened in Ghana under the military rule of Jerry Rawlings. At a point, the government of Ghana decided to open up and all these things came to light. In Ghana, Rawlings was able to rebuild himself as a democrat. There was democracy and he made sure he left office and today Ghana is considered as a model of democracy. When Ghana was under dictatorship, we had multi-party democracy in The Gambia. Rawlings is now living as a free and happy man in Accra.

“This is a very grave situation. The North Korea issue was today referred to the Security Council to see whether they could be indicted by the ICC. North Korea is lobbying to do everything to remedy the situation. North Korea is lobbying journalists and human rights activists for a better picture of their country. If North Korea could make a u-turn fearing the consequences of what is going to happen to them, they [the Gambia Government] should act before it is too late by making sure that they ask these people to come back and give them access to where they want to be and then address whatever the way forward is. As a concerned citizen, we want this issue to be addressed according to UN rules because we are members.”

Mr Bah also lamented the government’s inertia towards regulation of the fuel sector with frequent price increases, saying:

“What we consume today had to be ordered one month in advance so the high priced oil since July must have been already consumed. The price of oil has gone down since July from over hundred dollars to about 78 Dollars. The price of oil has gone down in the international market by about one third and up to now Gambians have not started enjoying the benefits of that price fall .We are still paying the same pump price we were paying which is one of the most expensive you can find in the world.

In other countries when the price goes up you increase , when it goes down you reduce and that will impact positively on the economy because savings will increase the purchasing power of Gambians and it will also help companies to sustain themselves by making sure that they don’t go out of business by maintaining their vehicles and generators in the absence of Nawec . When the world is benefitting we are still suffering. The price of oil remains here as it was when the price of a barrel was over 100 dollars. The price has gone down one third and Gambians are still suffering and the government is not doing anything about it. The people should vote them out in 2016 because they don’t have their interest at heart. They only want to satisfy themselves and their own needs .The situation is not fair and justifiable and must stop”.

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