By Lamin Cham
Sports Minister Hadrammeh Sidibeh yesterday convened a meeting between the feuding football politicians to find a way out of the mounting tension within the fraternity in the build-up to the August 18 election.
The meeting, which took the best part of the afternoon yesterday, did not arrive at any conclusions but the Minister said the process to bring the two to an understanding will continue.
Meanwhile Essa Jallow, the spokesman of the Malick Sillah has reacted to Minister Hadrammeh Sidibeh’s reported revocation of the decision of the National Sports Council to suspend the GFF leadership.
On Tuesday the NSC suspended GFF President Lamin Kaba Bajo, his second vice president Ebou Faye and executive member Bakary Jammeh claiming that the action followed a recommendation by the National Assembly for them to take action over the police investigation report.
The police report blamed the GFF for deliberately not deducting tax while the attorney general’s chambers too said the act is condemnable. Both institutions asked the tax authorities GRA to use their mechanisms to recover the money amounting to over one million dalasis.
But even before the ink on the suspension letters went dry, Sports minister Hadrammeh Sidibeh said the decision has been revoked as he tried to work out a breakthrough.
However speaking to The Standard, Essa Jallow said he is not officially aware that the Minister has revoked the decision because he has not seen any written letter from the minster or ministry to that effect. “I have not seen any official communication from the minister rescinding the suspension by the NSC. But in any case whether he does that or not is between him and the NSC,” Mr Jallow said.
He explained that what is important is that the Sillah-Camp has made it clear that once their complaints and demands are not met, there will be no elections. “We still stand by that,” he added.
Meanwhile Minister Sidibeh has defended his decision to revoke the suspension, saying in the first place it was not his position over this matter. “I don’t think that is the solution because it is going to take us back and forth to defend this or that at Fifa. I think it will not be the best way for us out of this; that is why it was revoked,” he said. Asked if his decision may not amount to holding the National Assembly to contempt as seen by some observers, the minister said the assembly’s recommendation for the NSC to act did not specify which way or action the NSC should take.
Asked if the police report was not enough to morally disqualify the GFF leadership as charged by critics, the minister said the report may have highlighted some lapses but it has not been proven in a court of law yet. “Example the GRA has not taken them to court and they get convicted. The report or its finding has not yet made them criminals yet unless the matter is tried in a court of law and we have not reached that state yet. I think sometimes the real interpretation of the law could be different from what one may immediately want to believe. So that’s why what I am doing now is to find an amicable way out so that each and every one of them would have chance to compete in the elections,” the minister said. He said the talks are ongoing and he is hopeful that both sides will come to a common position.