On the student massacre

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Dear editor,

April 10 and 11, 2000, will remain as the single most brutal act of massacre on innocent civilians in our history. It was a dark episode that will forever scar the conscience of those who ordered the deadly crackdown on students and every member of our service personnel who carried out the order.

17 years later, memories of those who died are fresh as the day they were murdered. We are awed by their bravery and grateful for their sacrifice.

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We thank the Almighty God for the opportunity to commemorate these events in a manner befitting of their lives and legacies for the first time in nearly two decades.

We call on Gambian authorities to publish the Commission Report on the massacre, repeal the indemnity bill and begin legal proceedings against all those implicated, at every level, in the deployment of lethal force on unarmed students.

This day, as in every day, we renew our commitment and reaffirm our pledge to ensuring that justice is dispensed expeditiously and proportional to every crime committed on our soil and that victims are duly compensated.

These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion.

We thank all Gambians for their tireless efforts in bringing about this day and for helping victims every step of the way.

May their souls rest eternal peace.

Zakaria Kemo Conteh
Queens, USA

To the president: amidst the rhapsodic celebration, who will be our Speaker?

Dear Mr President,

It goes without saying that the Office of the Speaker of the National Assembly is a very important one. Indeed, it is the third most important office in our government. As such, whoever is to be appointed the Speaker of the National Assembly should be a person who is not only knowledgeable and experienced, but one whose integrity is beyond reproach.

As of now, you have the prerogative to nominate five members and appoint them in the National Assembly. It is from these, according to our Constitution, that the Speaker and Deputy Speaker should come from. This, I personally believe, is undemocratic. When the dust settles and all is said and done however, our lawmakers should ensure that the law regarding this is changed. We need to ensure that all laws that were to entrench dictatorship and tyranny are thrown to the trashcan where they belong.

There are very many things that need to be done. But the Constitutional Review ranks highest in urgency. For, it is this (Constitutional Review) that will ensure that every other piece of the puzzle falls in its right place. This makes it extremely important to appoint the right person as Speaker. It is with the right type of Speaker that all the necessary reforms can take place in the shortest possible time. Also, as the Constitutional Review Board will require the widest possible consultation around the country, it is imperative that it starts its work soonest.

Mr President, yours is a transitional government of three years (or five I am told, though the jury is still out on that) so the time at your disposal is indeed very limited. So, without wasting any more time, you should look for someone who is both competent and scrupulous and nominate him/her with a view to making them the Speaker so the work can begin proper.

A scrupulous, capable, nonpartisan speaker will work to bridge the gap in the National Assembly and by extension, the nation at large.
That is important!

Musa Bah
Nusrat SSS

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