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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

LettersState of the nation address: utterly inadequate Part I

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Dear editor,

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This is what Pres.

Adama Barrow said in speaking about “certain developments that are of concern to the Government and the people of the Gambia.”

“Recently, some people have been taking the law into their own hands to commit violent acts of destruction and attacks on property and individuals.

Aside from the Faraba Banat disorder, violent incidents, including arson and murder, have been recorded in the Kombo Berending, Gunjur, Garawol and, most recently, in the Kanifing Municipality.

Personal attacks on the government officials fighting crime in the country, such as the Assistant Police Commissioner and Head of the Police Anti-Crime, and arson attacks on his family home, the Bakoteh Police Station and within the Serekunda market area are not part of our values.”

May I ask Pres. Adama Barrow whether it is our ‘values’ to have police officers torture or stab citizens to death? Is it our values to have government agencies sell the natural resources of our communities? Is it part of our values to have public officials abuse their office and fail to address the fundamental social and economic rights and needs of citizens? Is this the understanding of the President or is he forced to say things that are not true and irresponsible?

By making the above statement, i.e. by claiming that some individuals have taken the law into their own hands, it means the President has now directly undermined the delivery of justice.

He has served to potentially interfere with the independence and integrity of the Judiciary simply because he is the President talking and not an ordinary citizen talking about an ongoing investigation or trial.

This is indeed a serious matter of concern for which the Chief Justice must confront the President for threatening the Judiciary.

To have the President of the Gambia call Faraba Riots a “Disorder” without highlighting the deep undercurrents that gave rise to that ‘Disorder’ is utterly unfortunate, misleading and irresponsible.

This was an incident in which Gambians lost their lives because of the failure of the Government in the first place to secure the natural environment and resources of the people.

The fact that the National Assembly ordered all mining activities to stop in Faraba and order the revocation of the license of the private company before the ‘Disorder’ speaks to the lack of transparency in the award of that mining contract.

The fact that the President himself constituted a commission of inquiry whose report highlighted multiple cases of both central and local government failure including the use of force by the police shows that indeed Faraba Riots were caused by none other than the Government itself. Yet the President ignored the facts!

Therefore, the incidents that the President cited are all cases that touch on the heart of the civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights of citizens for which the Government has the primary duty to protect citizens.

While the Government has failed to fulfil its role in all of these cases, yet we now have a President who has the audacity to face Gambians to ridicule, blame and criminalise the people.

How can the President only ask citizens to abide by the rule of law yet fail to address public servants and security officers to also abide by the rule of law? This shows that in his mind Pres. Barrow does not seem to understand the concept and nature of protests and riots.

Madi Jobarteh
Boraba Village

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