By Alagie Manneh
The minister of local government Musa Drammeh has disclosed that as the line ministry his office will naturally have to look at the incident in Manduar village but only after the governor of West Coast Region submit a report after completing investigations into the incident.
A voter registration exercise for the settlement turned chaotic after two attestation points belonging to different alkalolu or village heads ignited a showdown over which one is legitimate to approve attestations.
People of Manduar Mandinka, the original settlers of the area, opposed the authority of Touba Manduar alkalo— mainly habited by the Wolofs – to issue his own attestations for claimants from his community.
The Gambia Police Force arrested a few people as riot police were deployed to diffuse tension.
Speaking to The Standard on the matter, Musa Drammeh who has only just returned from an official trip from abroad said:
“I was out of town and I just came back last night. I have asked the governor to put up a written report and submit it to me. When I receive the report, we will know what next steps to take. For now, I cannot tell you anything more,” he said.
The Governor Lamin Sanneh confirmed to The Standard that his office is assessing the matter but not in any position to state when a report is expected to be completed.
However, he went on to observe: “The report is to testify that Babucarr Secka was appointed as alkalo in 2012 in Touba Manduar and that nobody has the authority to challenge whether somebody is Gambian or not; only the law can decide that. Also, the report will indicate that I have sent a word to Alkalo Jerreh Bojang that Touba people should be given attestations and they should not be antagonised. The report is going to be very comprehensive and will cover all these areas or issues.”
The governor also prevailed on both sides, including online commentators, to shun tribal sentiments and remove them from the discourse. He said he is “disappointed” that some people wanted to portray this as a tribal issue when it is not.
“In this country, we are all intertwined. You can have a Mandinka marry a Wolof, or Jola married to a Fula. Let’s look at The Gambia first. I am disappointed because I don’t think this should be our attitude. Let’s forget about tribal and religious differences and make this country a beacon for all,” he said.