By Oumie Mendy
The National Assembly Member for Sabach Sanjal, Honourable Alhagie Babou Ceesay, has questioned the foreign minister’s absence on matters relating to deportations.
The vice president, the ministers of Interior and Foreign Affairs were summoned by the Assembly committee to respond to questions on the plight of Gambian migrants.
The VP, Badara Joof and the Interior Minister, Seyaka Sonko, appeared but the Foreign Minister, Dr Mamadou Tangara didn’t turn up.
The Sabach Sanjal NAM wasn’t particularly pleased about his absence.
“For the Minister of Foreign Affairs, this is the second time, so I don’t see the reason why every time we have to wait for him. I believe this is very important and as you [the VP] mentioned in the cabinet retreat, we have to limit some of our travels to make sure that we look at issues like this,” he said.
But VP Joof argued: “I don’t want to hold briefs for the foreign minister but he was on three statutory meetings, that is why he is absent in this one. I was supposed to represent the president but I had other engagements, so I asked him to go and participate as foreign minister and as well represent the executive.”
Meanwhile, the vice president has asked for more time to respond to questions on the deportations.
“I am new in this; I don’t know anything about such – I in fact got the briefing from foreign affairs yesterday and the minister of interior is also new. So, I want to request from the committee to give us time for us to have proper briefing from our technicians, especially those at the foreign affairs because the issue on the table is very sensitive,” VP Joof told deputies yesterday.
He reminded the MPs that the executive, just like the National Assembly, is also very concerned about issues affecting Gambians abroad, especially those in Germany.
“But we are all aware of the sanctions they want to impose on us and the way they want to escalate them to another level. So, it is important we know the details and how to strategise as an executive and come to the Legislature to work with you so that at least we have a smooth transition,” he added.
VP Joof said the members of parliament should also be cognisant of the European Union’s development assistance to The Gambia.
“The EU is too big and you cannot do business in the world without involving them, so we need them. I want to appeal that you give us time or else we will be talking about something that we certainly don’t know much about. I want you to allow me to talk to the president so that the ministers of interior and foreign affairs, myself and the technicians can sit down and discuss this and then come to see you as a team,” he noted.
Reacting to the VP’s appeal, NAM for Serekunda West, Honourable Madi Ceesay said: “What you said is really fair enough but we must also bear in mind that there are also Gambians who are suffering, so the waiting should not be long. We’ll take this as an excuse but let it be very short.”
Honourable Ceesay told the VP they have to return to the Assembly as early as next week to respond to the deputies’ questions.