By Omar Wally
The Inspector General of Police has for the first time spoken on why his office did not grant permission to the organizers of the much talked #OccupyWestfield demonstration planned for last Sunday.
The Police came under criticism for not allowing a ‘peaceful demonstration’ to go ahead.
But speaking to The Standard yesterday IGP Landing Kinteh explained that his office subjects every application for permit to scrutiny by asking relevant units to do the ground works in addition to screening and background checking of the applicants.
“We take into account their intentions and study the ground where they want to hold the procession and once we are satisfied with all these information, we would issue the permit. That’s why it may take two or three days, and sometimes we even call the applicants to ask them physically some questions that we want to clarify,” the IGP said.
Kinteh said all these measures are necessary to ensure that no security situation emerges after a permit has been granted.
Specially, he said they went through the application of #Occupy Westfield group only to realize that even though it was a right for them to protest as Gambians, that right of theirs stops where that of others begins. “We all know that Westfield is a busy part of the town and any procession will affect the inflow of traffic to Banjul, Brikama and Kartong,” the IGP said.
He added that from the look of things, the activities there will attract a whole lot of people. “Again this is a new democracy; the country went through a lot during the 22 years of dictatorship and now we are in democracy.”
According to IGP Kinteh, all Gambians want this democracy dearly so that it will be rooted and become part of our DNA instead of practicing it haphazardly.
“There are strong reasons that there is likely going to be a counter demonstration by people who feel that these people are not been reasonable – that the government should have more time to work on some of the issues that they have inherited and which are not created by the current government,” he added.
IGP disclosed that because of this threat of a counter demonstration, police may not be in the position to handle the matter and it could degenerate in to more chaos.
IGP Kinteh further said the organizers were invited by him even before the Minister of the Interior did and they were impressed that they were given audience by the IGP.
“In fact, I was surprised when they went out to say something different, because while they were here with the police senior management, they assured that they were not going to demonstrate but rather all they want from me is for us to give them denials so that they will convince people out there that it is not conducive for them to go on a demonstration this time around,” Kinteh concluded.